Top US lawmakers to visit France, Turkey, Mideast

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Top US lawmakers said Thursday they would travel next week to France, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to discuss ways to pressure Iran.

"I look forward to discussing a wide range of issues, including the very concerning threat posed to the entire world by Iran's continuing support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear capability," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who will lead the delegation, said in a statement in Washington.

"One goal that all responsible nations must be committed to is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, another senior member of the group.

Ros-Lehtinen, an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said she would also "press" the countries involved "on policies which undermine US interests and run contrary to democratic values" but did not elaborate.

"I will also use this as an opportunity to press these governments to respect human rights, particularly with respect to women, and end religious intolerance" in the wake of the Arab Spring, she said.

Ros-Lehtinen also said she would discuss Washington's opposition to "unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state" outside of negotiations with Israel, which have long been stalled.

The delegation was also to include Democrats.

© 2012 AFP

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