Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-.
(photo credit: AP [file])
US Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, on a Mideast visit that included a stop in Syria, said the country lambasted by the Bush administration deserves credit for taking in more than a million Iraqi refugees.
Kucinich, a strong anti-war opponent who trails far in the US presidential polls, also said he won't visit Iraq on his trip to the region because he considers the US military deployment there illegal.
"I feel the United States is engaging in an illegal occupation ... I don't want to bless that occupation with my presence," he said in an interview in Lebanon, after visiting Syria. "I will not do it."
Kucinich, who accused the Bush administration of policies that have destabilized the Mideast, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad during his visit to Damascus. He said Assad was receptive to his ideas of "strength through peace."
He also praised Syria for taking in Iraqi refugees.
"What most people are not aware of is that Syria has taken in more than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees," Kucinich said. "The Syrian government has actually shown a lot of compassion in keeping its doors open, and being a host for so many refugees."
Kucinich said he would ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to follow up on the "dire conditions" in southern Lebanon, especially Israeli cluster bombs leftover from the war that have killed more than 30 and injured at least 200 since the fighting's end.
"There has to be a commitment to cleaning up these cluster bombs," Kucinich said.