East Hawaii News

Hirono Travels to the Middle East

January 15, 2016, 9:27 AM HST
* Updated January 15, 9:29 AM
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Senator Mazie Hirono. U.S. Senate photo.

Senator Mazie Hirono. U.S. Senate photo.

Senator Mazie Hirono recently traveled to the Middle East as a member of the United States Congressional delegation, one year after showing support for the Iran Nuclear Deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The trip was focused on the discussion of JCPOA’s implementation and security challenges in the region.

During the six-day trip, the Hawai’i senator traveled to Austria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Key leaders and decision makers in each of the countries met with the group, including the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, in Austria; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset opposition leader Isaac Herzog, and Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun; top Saudi Interior Ministry officials and women appointed to Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council; and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey.

World leaders discussed the Iran Nuclear Deal, the continued Iranian threat, the Syrian civil war, the rise of and strategies to counter the Islamic State in the region, exporting terrorism, and the growing sectarian divide in the Middle East.

“The leadership role that the U.S. continues to play in the Middle East is as important as ever. In meetings with key leaders in Israel, my colleagues and I emphasized the need to work with Israel to implement the Iran Nuclear Deal,” said Senator Hirono. “Together, we can make sure that Iran abides by its commitments under the agreement. We also stressed that as Israel faces new and enduring threats on its borders, the U.S. will continue to work with Israel to ensure its security.”

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Senator Hirono supported the Iran Nuclear Deal in September 2015. Now, the IAEA is reportedly ready to certify that Iran has met its obligations under the Iran Nuclear Deal, bringing “Implementation Day” and the beginning of sanctions relief under the agreement.

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“Talking with top officials in the region gave me valuable information related to the complicated dynamics and real threats in the Middle East and the impact of these threats to our own national security,” said Senator Hirono.  “From conversations with Israel’s key decision makers and a visit to the Israeli-Gaza border crossing to long meetings with Saudi Interior Ministry officials and Turkey’s leadership, we focused on the importance of fostering and sustaining our partnerships in the region.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand led the United States Congressional delegation. Senators Chris Coons, Tammy Baldwin, Tim Kaine, Heidi Heikamp, Cory Booker, and Gary Peter were also included.

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