Springfield State Journal-Register

March 22, 2005

Sen. Durbin traveling to Middle East during break

Copley News Service

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois are leading a bipartisan delegation to the Middle East and several developing democracies.

While the Senate is taking a two-week spring break, the delegation is traveling to Israel, the West Bank, Kuwait, the Republic of Georgia, Ukraine and other countries. They left Friday and are scheduled to return Sunday.

In addition to Durbin and Reid, the delegation includes Sens. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Ken Salazar, D-Colo.

Most senators including Durbin are traveling with their spouses for at least some portion of the trip, Durbin spokeswoman Angela Benander said Monday. Details aren't being released for security reasons.

"I think there's a momentum for positive change in the Middle East and in several other nations right now. The Senate needs to be fully engaged in the process today and this trip will allow us to hear from the region's top leaders about the progress being made in security and stability," Durbin said in a statement issued by his office.

Durbin also plans to meet with Illinois military personnel stationed in the region.