Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is claiming he was mistranslated in lavishing praise upon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during what the White House is describing as a rogue peace mission with no briefings and no official imprimatur, according to The Hill.
Assad is a dictator who is being widely criticized for the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Syria.
Kucinich embarked on a trip, which he called a "fact-finding mission," to Syria and Lebanon this week. Meanwhile, prominent Republicans called upon the Obama administration to recall the U.S. ambassador to Syria because of the repressive actions of the Assad regime.
A story by the Syrian Arab News Agency on Tuesday has Kucinich at a press conference in Syria taking a highly controversial position toward al-Assad. In May, the U.S. imposed sanctions against al-Assad as a means of pressuring him to end the violent repression there.
"President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians," Kucinich said, according to the Syrian news site. "President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this."
Kucinich pushed back against the report later on Tuesday while in Beirut, calling the remarks "mistranslated.”
“Arab-speaking friends accompanying me have explained that the problem may have come from a mistranslation as well as the degree of appreciation and affection their state-sponsored media has for President Assad,” Kucinich said in a statement released to The Hill. “Given the stakes for Syria and the region, I will consider the article only an error, not a willful intent to mischaracterize my statements or my efforts in the region.”
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