U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, returned to Washington, D.C. today following a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel during which, he, along with the other members of the delegation, met with senior government, military, and intelligence officials in the respective countries.
"After several days of productive and informative conversations with Saudi, Qatar, Israeli, and Palestinian leaders, as well as with members of Syrian opposition forces, I am convinced that strong and thoughtful American leadership and diplomacy is not only welcome -- but necessary -- to the future of the Middle East," Senator King said. "From the mission to eliminate the ISIL threat and the negotiations to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapon capability, to the struggle to end the Syrian humanitarian crisis and the effort to achieve lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, we all share the common goal of rooting out the extremism and fanaticism that threatens the region and our national security. The United States will have an important role to play as we work with our partners and allies across the globe to solve these difficult international challenges, and Congress will consider many, if not all, of these issues over the course of the coming year. As a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, this trip will inform that vital work, and I look forward to partnering with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle -- just as was done during this trip -- to make progress for the future."
In Saudi Arabia, Senator King met with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar, and HRH Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, as well as Syrian Tribal Leaders. In Qatar, the Senators met with His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, as well as Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani and Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah. The discussions focused on the coalition campaign against ISIL, the ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations, the humanitarian situation in Syria, the need for renewed peace talks between Israel and Palestine and other economic, security and human rights issues.
In Israel, the delegation met with President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well as Labor Party Leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua Party Leader Tzipi Livni. The discussion focused on a broad range of bilateral and regional issues as well as a reaffirmation of support for the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership.
The delegation also visited Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, to lay a wreath in remembrance of the victims of the recent anti-semitic terrorist attack in France.
Other delegation members included Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; John Barrasso (R-Wyo.); Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.); and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). All of those on the trip are members of the Armed Services or Foreign Relations Committee.