NEW YORK — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says the attack on the American consulate in Libya was an act of terrorism and says the United States must use foreign aid to bring about lasting change in such places.

In a speech Tuesday, Romney said foreign aid cannot sustain a developing country on a permanent basis and that U.S. policies should promote work, not reliance. The former Massachusetts governor also says aid should give people dignity and change attitudes toward the West.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Barack Obama’s top spokesman each have said the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Obama himself has not used that language.

Romney spoke in New York at an annual global development conference sponsored by former President Bill Clinton.

Former President Clinton introduced Romney and praised Romney’s support for the AmeriCorps program.

Romney joked that if there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that, quote, “a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good.”

It was a nod to Clinton’s speech praising Obama at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, and the slight bounce in the polls for Obama that followed.

Romney’s campaign says he spoke backstage with Clinton and Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, before delivering his speech. Clinton and Romney appeared chummy as they shook hands and chatted onstage afterward.

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