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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio headed to Jordan, Israel



Sen. Marco Rubio on Saturday began a weeklong trip that will take him to Jordan and Israel as part of his work on the Senate Intelligence Committee and Foreign Relations Committee -- but also seems designed to burnish his political profile.

"In Jordan, I look forward to meeting with King Abdullah as well as other members of the Jordanian government, which remains among our most loyal allies in the region in trade, cultural exchanges and especially in combating terrorism. 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," he wrote.

"In Israel, I look forward to meeting with our embassy, military and intelligence personnel as well, followed by visits with Israeli political, defense, intelligence and business leaders. I am especially looking forward to meeting with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss various areas of mutual interest, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. I also look forward to meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad."

The trip has an obvious political connection.

Rubio has been keen to develop foreign policy experience as he seeks to become a national figure. He's going to Israel before President Barack Obama makes his first trip. Typically, such trips are with other lawmakers but Rubio is going by himself. He's bringing staff along, a spokesman said, including Jamie Fly, a new Rubio staffer who serves as counselor for foreign and national security affairs.

Rubio noted that his wife, Janette, was going on the trip "at no taxpayer expense."

[Last modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 4:26pm]


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