US confirmed the meeting with Assad
Hawaiian lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard confirmed Wednesday she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a week-long trip to Syria and Lebanon.
The congresswoman’s office originally offered few details about her visit to the region, citing security concerns, prompting speculation that she would meet with Assad on the trip. "Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it," Gabbard said in a statement.
"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," she added.
The Democratic lawmaker visited Damascus, Aleppo, and Beirut from Jan. 14-22 and met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders and Assad, according to a statement from her office.
The visit led her to more fully oppose efforts to overthrow Assad's government, she said.
"I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government," she said. "The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.”
Her trip was approved by the House of Representatives Ethics Committee, and was led and sponsored by the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services, according to her office's statement.
She was accompanied by former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his wife, peace advocates, and her husband.
Gabbard's announcement comes as President Donald Trump prepares to craft a new U.S. policy in Syria. Trump has oftentimes spoken critically of regime change in Syria.