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Rising Republican star Rubio set to visit Jerusalem
By HERB KEINON
18/02/2013
Florida senator touted as possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016 visits region; Rubio will meet Peres, Netanyahu, Fayyad.
 
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), an emerging leader in the Republican Party who is considered one of the likely candidates for the 2016 US presidential race, is scheduled to meet on Wednesday in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Rubio’s visit to the region – he left Saturday for Jordan and then to Israel – comes a month after another possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Rand Paul, also paid a high-profile visit to Israel and Jordan.

While that was Paul’s first visit, this will be Rubio’s second visit to Israel and his first to Jordan. Rubio, considered a staunch Israel supporter, visited the country for the first time just weeks after he won the Florida senatorial race in 2010, effectively bursting onto America’s national political scene.

Last week, Rubio gave the official Republican response to US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. He also graced the cover of Time Magazine, under the headline in the US, “The Republican Savior: How Marco Rubio became the new voice of the GOP.”

Rubio wrote on his website that he was coming to the Middle East on an official trip in his role as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees.

He said that in Jordan he will meet King Abdullah II, as well as other government ministers, and called the Hashemite Kingdom “among our most loyal allies in the region in trade, cultural exchanges and especially in combating terrorism.”

He wrote that he also wanted to learn more about the Syrian civil war and its impact on Jordan and the region.

Turning to Israel, Rubio wrote that he will meet President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu and other political, defense, intelligence and business leaders. He also has a meeting planned with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

“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,” he wrote.

“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.”

He wrote that he also wanted to discuss “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.”
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