by Peter Freyne
Word via email from the Middle East this afternoon that the congressional delegation U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is leading completed its meetings in Jordan earlier today and is traveling on to Israel, the West Bank and Lebanon. Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont is also on the trip.
St. Patrick’s Press Secretary David Carle informs “Freyne Land” :
"They had illuminating and candid discussions with The King and separate meetings with several government ministers, including the foreign minister and the justice minister. he sessions have been dominated by discussions about Palestinian refugee issues and fallout in the region from the war in Iraq and from the strengthened position the war has given to. Iran. The King emphasized the importance of resuming the peace process.”
Mr. Carle also told us they’d been briefed by UN and NGO officials “about the Palestinian and Iraqi refugee situations in the region.”
Also, there was considerable discussion in separate briefings, “about a looming crisis in the murders and exiles of most Iraqi academics.”
Leahy’s veteran spokesman said “an emotional high point was the delegation's visit to the largest Palestinian refugee settlement in Jordan, the Baqa settlement, managed by the UN.”
And Mr. Carle passed along this comment from the keyboard of St. Patrick:
"I look at what the children in the refugee camps face, day in and day out and often decade after decade, and I wonder what kind of generation is being created. A photo of a young refugee looks over my desk to remind me of that. If we don't come up with better answers, history will repeat itself."
Patrick & Peter are planning a conference-call presser from the Middle East with the Vermont press around noon tomorrow our time.