Cardin leads delegation to Israel, Syria


WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is leading a congressional delegation to Israel and Syria.

The delegation, which left Thursday, will meet leaders of the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority while in Jerusalem, and plans to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Mualem in Damascus to discuss the state of the peace process and U.S.-Syrian bilateral relations. The group also plans to visit the United Nations High Commission for Refugees facility in Damascus to assess the situation of Iraqi refugees in Syria.

Cardin will lead the delegation in his capacity as chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission — the U.S. branch of an alliance of parliamentary human rights monitors that reports to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe — and will be accompanied by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.). After the Middle East trip, the group will go to Vienna, where it will attend a winter meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.

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