Sen. Rubio: Iran Not Just Israel's Problem

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he believes President Obama's visit to Israel is timely and a positive development.

Rubio was in Israel this week on an official visit, meeting with Israeli leaders and others.

At a press conference in Jerusalem Thursday evening, Rubio said he hopes the president will send a clear signal that despite differences on many issues in the United States, there is bipartisan support for foreign policy issues.

"Number one [is] that a nuclear Iran is not something we can live with," Rubio told reporters. "It's not just an Israeli problem. It's a problem for the world."

"Number two [is] that the security of Israel becomes first and foremost, and we believe that it is the security of Israel, not any other issue, which is the lynchpin to solving many of these conflicts in the region, including, in particular, the Palestinian question," he said.

Rubio's visit comes ahead of Obama's trip to Israel, expected in March. It will be Obama's first trip to Israel as president.

Rubio also mentioned Syria, where he said there are "extraordinary weapons" -- nerve agents, chemical weapons and biological agents as well as weapons that can strike sea vessels and aircrafts -- "unprecedented weapons that many other nations in the world do not have."

Rubio said it would pose a "serious risk if somehow extremist elements get a hold of these weapons, if somehow these weapons get into the hands of arms dealers that are able to distribute them."

"We've seen what's happened with the Libyan conflict. Imagine that times 10," he warned.

There are still a number of militias that are not under any central command in Libya long after the fall of Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi.

Rubio said the situation is being carefully monitored.

He also said he believes the United States should try to find groups that it can work with after the fall of President Bashar Assad's regime.

"I think our hope is to continue to try this process of identifying responsible actors that will be responsible, not just in this conflict but in the aftermath of this conflict, and empower them so that they will become the best organized, the best funded, the best armed, the best equipped and the most capable post-Assad force on the ground in Syria," Rubio said.

"Our hope is to learn for example from the Libyan experience, where that didn't happen," he said.

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Julie Stahl

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