Rep. Tulsi Gabbard defended her meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad on a secret trip to the war-ravaged country last week by saying Wednesday: "The fact is that he is the president of Syria."
"In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possibility of a viable piece agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him," the Hawaii Democrat, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told Jake Tapper on CNN.
"The Syrian people will determine his outcome and what happens with their government and their future," she added. "But my focus, my commitment is on ending this war that has caused so much suffering to these Syrian people, to these children, these families, many of whom I met on this trip.
"It's important for us to stay focused on doing what is in their best interest, and what is in our best interest," she said.
Gabbard, 35, an Iraqi war Army veteran, spent four days in Damascus last week on a secret "fact-finding" trip, her aides told Foreign Policy magazine.
She has long opposed regime change in Syria, opposing her party's position, saying Syria would grow more unstable if Assad was removed from power.
More than 500,000 people have died in the six-year-old civil war.
Gabbard told Tapper she had not planned to meet with Assad, but "when the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so.
"It's important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, we have to be able to meet with anyone that we need to, if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace.
"That's exactly what we talked about."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.