Globetrotting Marylanders Back from Mideast...Updated
Democratic Reps. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Frank M. Kratovil Jr. are returning today from a six-day trip to a half-dozen Middle East and European countries including Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
The official trip, for at least six members of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and staff aides, included talks with government leaders in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel; Beirut, Lebanon; Damascus, Syria; Baghdad, Iraq; and Brussels, Belgium.
Leading the delegation was Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, who chairs the Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities subcommitee (or TAUTAC, as we like to call it).
Ruppersberger, of Baltimore County, is a member of the House Intelligence committee. He recently started his seventh year in Congress.
Kratovil, from Queen Anne's County on the Eastern Shore, is a member of the House Armed Services committee. He is beginning his fifth week in Congress, after winning one of the closest House elections in the nation last fall.
According to Kratovil's office, the delegation met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel as well as opposition party leader, a possible future prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
They met in Beirut with President Michael Suleiman and other top officials and in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.
In Baghdad, they met with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Gen. Ray Odierno, the top force commander and with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and other Iraqi officials.
After a stop at NATO headquarters in Belgium, they returned to Washington this afternoon.