June 29, 2013

King, overseas leaders to confer about Syria

He will join the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on a fact-finding mission.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is headed to Turkey and Jordan next week along with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss the war in Syria with overseas leaders.

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Displaying hand-made signs, demonstrators gather on a corner of Portland’s Congress Square, Friday, to protest U.S. involvement in the war in Syria.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Sen. Angus King

King and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., plan to meet with foreign leaders, U.S. military commanders, diplomats and others to discuss how events in Syria are affecting the region and U.S. national security interests, according to news releases from the two senators' offices.

Levin invited King to accompany him on the fact-finding trip, according to King's office. For security reasons, further details of the trip are not being released a this time.

This is the first overseas congressional trip for King, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee. Such trips are paid for by the federal government.

The Obama administration continues to struggle with how involved to get in the fight in Syria between rebel forces and President Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say the fighting has killed more than 100,000 people.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the CIA has begun shipping some weapons to Jordan as part of the Obama administration's plan to start supplying rebels with light armaments. For months, the administration had resisted calls to arm rebel forces despite calls from European and Middle Eastern allies for a stronger U.S. response.

But the failure of all attempts at diplomacy -- combined with conclusions that Assad had used chemical weapons on some opponents -- prompted the administration to get more involved.

Meanwhile, members of the activist group Codepink held a demonstration in Portland's Congress Square Friday to protest against increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian war and to call for diplomatic efforts toward a cease-fire.


Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at: kmiller@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC


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