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GOP Sen. Rubio Visits Israel, Eyes 2016 Presidential Run

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is visiting Israel and Jordan, in a trip that could bolster a possible 2016 presidential run.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/17/2013, 10:16 AM

US Sen. Rubio
US Sen. Rubio
Reuters

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) embarked on a trip to the Middle East on Saturday, in a visit that could do much to bolster the possible 2016 presidential candidate's foreign policy credentials.

Rubio plans to visit Israel and Jordan and will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

“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,” Rubio said in a statement announcing his trip.

His trip comes as newly-appointed Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to visit the region in his first trip abroad in his new position, and ahead of President Barack Obama's first upcoming official trip to Israel as president of the United States since being elected in 2008.

The relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is viewed to be less than genial and many critics have said the administration should do more to solidify its relationship with Israel, particularly as Iran continues to pursue its goal of achieving nuclear capabilities.

“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,” said Rubio, who this week delivered the GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address.

Rubio, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, also said that he will be visiting the U.S. embassies in each of the countries he visits.

“I will to meet with the brave men and women stationed there from our foreign service, military and intelligence services,” he said.