U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-central Brooklyn, Coney Island, Eastern Queens), a member of House Democratic Leadership and the Judiciary Committee, recently returned from an official five-day trip to the Middle East with a select group of nine other Congressional Democrats that included stops in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Amman and Kabul.
Ahead of the 70th anniversary of Israeli Independence, Jeffries attended high-level talks with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
“The U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the most important alliances our country has, and I was proud to have the chance to reaffirm our commitment to a two-state solution and peace in the region,” said Jeffries, adding the delegation also met with labor leader Isaac Herzog and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
In Amman, Jordan, the delegation met with King Abdullah II and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ayman Safadi. The group discussed security efforts and the challenges Jordan faces in the region. “I want to thank King Abdullah II for hosting us and for the opportunity to discuss how our countries can cooperate on security and economic development,” Jeffries said.
The delegation also received a briefing from the U.S. embassy staff in Amman and visited the Dahiet Al Ameer School, which was constructed by USAID in 2011 and serves Syrian refugee children.
In Afghanistan, Jeffries met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
The delegation discussed reducing corruption, ensuring women are a part of reconciliation talks with the Taliban and creating free and fair elections. Jeffries also had the opportunity to meet with Afghan leaders working to empower women and girls.
“Seeing the work these young leaders do to advance human rights, access to education, entrepreneurship and youth empowerment was inspiring,” said Jeffries. “While they are proof that Afghanistan has come a long way with the help of the U.S. and our allies, they still need our continued support.”
At Task Force Southeast-Advisory Platform Lightning in Gardez, Afghanistan, Jeffries met U.S. troops on the front lines of the effort to train Afghan security forces.
“These heroic men and women put their lives on the line every day to make the world safer. They embody the spirit of service and bravery of our armed forces. It was a privilege to meet them and hear their stories,” said Jeffries.
U.S. military leaders on the ground and the U.S. Embassy Country Team also briefed the delegation on the status of U.S. missions across the country. The officials made it clear that only a comprehensive effort focused on economic improvement, security and diplomacy will create a stable Afghanistan.
“I was honored to meet with the leaders of Israel, Jordan and Afghanistan, as well as U.S. military members and civic leaders across the Middle East during this trip,” Jeffries said.
“The U.S. remains committed to working with our allies to ensure peace and stability. Learning from regional leaders about how we can best support them to ensure national security and promote economic and social development was invaluable,” he added.