Gabbard met with Syrian president twice on recent trip

Updated: Feb. 8, 2017 at 6:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard met with Syria's president twice during her January trip to the war-torn country, and also sat down with Syria's first lady, according to travel documents released Wednesday.

Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has been criticized from some Republicans and Democrats over the visit, and has also since reimbursed the group that paid for her trip after critics had questioned how it was funded.

She has said her meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad were impromptu, and stressed they were aimed at bring peace to the region.

In response to the filings, her office said Wednesday that Gabbard only received an invitation to meet with Assad when she arrived in Beirut on Jan. 15.

She traveled to Syria the following day, arriving in Damascus about 11:30 a.m. and meeting with Assad at 12:15 p.m.

That meeting, according to documents filed by her office, lasted for one and half hours.

At 2:30 p.m. on the same day, Gabbard, who was traveling with her husband and others, met with Syria's first lady.

Also that day, she met with religious leaders and others.

On Jan. 17, Gabbard traveled to Aleppo and met with displaced people, religious leaders and others.

And then the following day, back in Damascus, Gabbard met for a second time with the Syrian president after a day of meetings with her others. Her meeting, according to her travel documents, started at 6 p.m. and lasted for 30 minutes.

Gabbard has said that when she went on the trip, "I had no intention of meeting with Assad."

She added, "But when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there's a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering."

Her office said in a statement Wednesday that Gabbard "agreed to meet because she believes we need to be ready to meet with anyone and everyone if there's a possibility it could help bring peace to Syria and the Middle East."

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