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Senator Lankford Visits Israel, Lebanon, UK for International Economic and Trade Events

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) returned earlier this week from a congressional delegation trip to Israel, Lebanon, and the UK to discuss economic development and the important regional partnerships we have in the Middle East and Europe to boost trade and economic prosperity internationally.

In Israel at the Israeli-Palestinian Economic Forum, Lankford was the only US elected official to speak to the conference, and he challenged the attendees to plant trees of peace that would allow their children to climb their branches in the coming years. In Lebanon, Lankford had an opportunity to meet with Lebanese leaders and learn more about the Syrian refugee population there and the long-term strategy for stability in the region. In London, Lankford met with Members of Parliament to address trade and Brexit.

“In all three countries there were extraordinary gatherings to develop trade, peaceful relationships and greater cooperation,” said Lankford. “Meeting with Israeli and Palestinian regional and business leaders to talk about greater economic cooperation holds promise for improved relationships and greater prosperity for everyone. For too long economic ties between Israelis and Palestinians have been forbidden; it is time to allow everyone in the region to succeed. This first of its kind joint business conference allows neighbors to plan together and talk about the real issues that hinder economic development. Along with American Ambassador Friedman, I was privileged to witness multiple business and regional leaders from both sides of the Green Line talk for the first time about economic development.

“In Lebanon, I was honored to meet two days in a row with the Prime Minister to work on our joint commitment to end terrorism in the region and further economic cooperation. I also met with the President of Lebanon and the military leadership of the country to discuss the Lebanese Armed Forces and their consistent work to combat ISIS and other terror organizations in and around their country. On Saturday, I was able to drive over the mountains to Zahle in the Beqaa Valley to meet with UNHCR leadership and to spend the morning walking through one of the Syrian refugee camps in the Beqaa Valley. While the world has moved on to other issues, more than 1.5 million people live as refugees in Lebanon and many million more in Europe, Jordan and Turkey. We must stay engaged to help these refugees return to their homes in Syria. The refugees I spoke to fled Syria years ago because of the brutal regime of Bashir Assad. For the future of the region, we must resolve the issues around the future of Syria so the Syrian people can return home in peace. Lebanon is a strong ally of the US, and we jointly commit to promoting human rights, opportunity for all, and peaceful relationships in the region. 

“On the way back from the Middle East, I was able to stop for one day in London to meet with multiple members of Parliament about the future of American trade and ways we can increase trade in agricultural products with the UK. The Brexit debate is not just about the future of Europe, it is also about the future relationship between the US and the UK. Several of the Brexit proposals currently under consideration from the EU, exclude the UK from trading with the US. I do not believe the citizens of the UK who voted to leave the EU also wanted to give the EU the power to stop their trade with the US. UK citizens wanted more access to trade and the ability to make their own decisions, not fewer options.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees, Lankford’s committee assignments provide him an opportunity to work on regional partnerships around the world to enhance American interests and boost existing diplomacy efforts.