Sen. Marco Rubio leaves for visit to Israel, Jordan


(JTA) — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio left for an official visit to the Middle East, including Jordan and Israel.

Rubio (R-Fla.) , who is considered an early front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, announced on his website Saturday that he was leaving the same day on the visit in his official capacities as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Foreign Relations Committee. It is his first visit to Jordan and second to Israel.

While in Israel, Rubio is scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss areas of "mutual interest," including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He also will meet with Israeli political, defense, intelligence and business leaders. Rubio said he will meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, as well.

"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," Rubio said in the statement on his website. "As Iran continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, we must continue to apply pressure through every possible means in order to prevent a nuclear Iran. And I look forward to assessing the impact American security assistance is having and discussing the importance of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and how we can maintain it during this time of great uncertainty and tumult in Egypt."

Rubio is scheduled to meet in Jordan with King Abdullah and other members of the Jordanian government, where he plans to discuss the Syrian civil war and how the resulting humanitarian crisis is having an impact on Jordan and the region, he said on his website.

Rubio’s wife, Jeanette, accompanied him on the trip.

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