PETERBOROUGH, New Hampshire - Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney said Wednesday that diplomacy was like dealing with a child and vowed to find ways to “influence” Pakistan to advance US interests.

“I don’t want to suggest that a country is like a child, but in the way that when you deal with another person we think of all these dimensions on which we try to influence them, we have to influence Pakistan,” he told voters here.

The former Massachusetts governor said he would “find how we can get those (Pakistani) institutions that are with us and will work towards modernity and peace and prosperity” to counter those that will not.

“In a place like Pakistan, you have the elected government, but then you also have the military - and the military in some respects has more power than the elected government,” said Romney, the frontrunner for his party’s nomination.

Speaking in a question-and-answer session in New Hampshire, which holds its nominating primary on January 10, he also cited Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, as well as “radicals and extremists” and local chiefs, “all of whom are pulling in different directions.”

Romney, who had been asked how he would tackle often strained relations with Pakistan, prefaced his answer by saying “it would be nice if in dealing with another nation it was as simple as turning on and off a faucet - a very simple, rudimentary experience.”

“But instead it’s more like dealing with an adolescent - I don’t mean to compare any nation to an adolescent, but just the fact that there’s no easy answer for how you bring a child to adolescence,” he said.

“You have to push and pull and find ways of influence and to change behaviour. Each nation will typically act in their best interests. Sometimes we forget that, we think that every nation should act in our best interest,” he said.

“That’s not the way they think. And so we have to understand what their concerns are and what their interests are,” he said.