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June 29th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

U.S. lawmaker on fact-finding mission to Syria

Damascus, Syria (CNN) - U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democrat who's long been an outspoken anti-war voice in Congress, visited volatile Syria to explore the possibility of a resolution to the violence spiraling across that country.

Kucinich is part of a small delegation on a fact-finding mission to Syria and neighboring Lebanon.

He said in a statement Monday that he pursued the trip because his constituents, in a Cleveland-area district that includes many Arab-Americans, asked him to look into "conditions on the ground" and see if there's a solution to a situation that's "spinning out of control."

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said President Bashar al-Assad met with Kucinich and the accompanying delegation Monday.

Criticism of Kucinich's trip has surfaced among activists because it is seen as legitimizing the al-Assad government.

But in his statement, Kucinich said he was planning to meet with "democracy activists, non-governmental organizations, small business owners, civilians as well as government officials."

Kucinich emphasized Tuesday that he met with people who are "actively involved" in the opposition, as well as government officials.

"I think it's really important for people involved in making policy to hear both sides," Kucinich told CNN.

The lawmaker arrived in Lebanon later Tuesday, where he plans to meet with President Michel Suleiman.

"Peace is not just the absence of war," Kucinich said, according to the statement.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
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