Connect to share and comment

Sen. Marco Rubio begins Middle East trip to Israel, Jordan

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wants to learn more about Syrian crisis, Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Marco rubio sotuEnlarge
Republican Senator Marco Rubio. (AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Marco Rubio began a week-long trip to Israel and Jordan today on a fact-finding mission as part of his official duties with the Senate Intelligence Committee and Foreign Relations Committee.

He said he’s headed overseas to learn more about the Syrian civil war and the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Rubio plans to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel as well as Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad.

“America's friendship with Israel is a truly special one, and we must continue to do all we can to support this beacon of democracy, religious freedom and free enterprise in the heart of an unstable region,” he said on his website.

Rubio has once before traveled to Israel.

In his first trip to Jordan, the Florida Republican will meet King Abdullah and members of the Jordanian government.

Jordan is a key US ally in the Middle East.

“I am also interested in learning more firsthand about the impact the Syrian civil war and how the humanitarian crisis that has resulted is impacting Jordan and the region,” Rubio said.

Rubio – who delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s state of the union address this week – is considered a rising star in his party and a potential presidential candidate in 2016.

New Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama are also planning trip to the area in the coming weeks, The Hill reported.

Rubio’s trip will also answer criticism from the National Jewish Democratic Council, which chastised him for not mentioning Israel in his SOTU speech, according to CNN.

“On foreign policy, America continues to be indispensable to the goal of global liberty, prosperity and safeguarding human rights,” Rubio said, CNN reported. “The world is a better place when America is the strongest nation on Earth. But we can’t remain powerful if we don't have an economy that can afford it.”

More from GlobalPost: Sen. Marco Rubio responds to Obama’s SOTU address

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130216/marco-rubio-middle-east-israel-jordan