Congressman Panetta Returns from Trip to Middle East
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) returned today from a Congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan, Jordan, and Israel. The focus of the trip was on global and regional security and cooperation issues.
“Congress has an important oversight role for our national security, including our counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East, and needs to ensure that our policies and resources are in place to keep our nation safe,” said Congressman Panetta. “Having served in Afghanistan, this trip was a great opportunity to return, see, and assess the current conditions on the ground as well as the needs associated with Operation Resolute Support. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and co-chair of the National Security Task Force, it was an important visit to evaluate our near and long-term strategy in the region. Our trip provided my fellow Members of Congress and me with the first-hand experience and understanding that we need to work on smart, strategic, and strong national security policies regarding the Middle East.”
In Afghanistan, Congressman Panetta and the delegation traveled to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Lighting which is the temporary home to the Southeast Advisory Security Task Force under the command of Brigadier General David M. Hamilton. The visit to the FOB in the Paktia Provence allowed Congressman Panetta to talk to and thank the service members on the front line who are training and advising Afghan security forces. The delegation then traveled to Kabul and met with General John W. Nicholson, Jr., Commander, Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, who briefed them on the current military strategy and security situation in Afghanistan. The delegation also met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the Presidential Palace. President Ghani expressed gratitude for the security and development assistance and was especially appreciative of the sacrifices of the American men and women in uniform.
In Jordan, the delegation met with His Royal Highness King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, as well as other senior defense and foreign affairs leadership who shared their insight into the challenges facing Jordan and the region.
In Israel, the delegation discussed U.S.-Israel relations, the prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and regional security issues with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The delegation also met with Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv. Congressman Panetta and the delegation reiterated American support for a two-state solution and for peace in the region.
In addition to Congressman Panetta, the Members of the delegation included:
- Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA)
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL)
- Rep. Adam Schiff (CA)
- Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX)
- Rep. Jim Himes (CT)
- Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
- Rep. Katherine Clark (MA)
- Rep. Donald McEachin (VA)
- Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD)
Our delegation met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the Presidential Palace.
Our delegation held a roundtable with Palestinian youth in Jerusalem.