US presidential candidate Mitt Romney caused a stir ahead of his visit to Jerusalem after contradicting Barack Obama’s positions on Iran, in an early indication that foreign policy will be a hot topic before the US presidential election, the Financial Times reports.

Dan Senor, Romney’s foreign policy adviser, said: “If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that [nuclear weapons] capability, the governor would respect that decision”. This sets out a much tougher approach than Obama’s opposition to military strike on Iran for the time being. However, Mr. Romney spoke in Jerusalem saying that he supported Israel’s “right to defend itself”.

The contradicting positions could hurt Mr. Romney’s hopes to attract more votes from the American Jewish community and weaken his stand against Obama’s way of dealing with Iran. Mr. Obama and senior US officials stated that the military option against Iran must remain “on the table”. The US have also urged Israel to give more time to diplomacy and sanctions on Iran to prevent a military strike.

Mr. Senor later released a statement, saying that “Gov. Romney recognises Israel’s right to defend itself” and it was necessary to “employ any and all measures” to halt Iran’s ambitious nuclear programmes.