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Pelosi Steps Up Foreign Affairs Activity

As the United States inches closer to war with Iraq, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is increasing her foreign policy profile, wrapping up a trip to the Middle East and planning a major address on the growing conflict.

Pelosi, who has expressed strong concerns about a war in Iraq and urged diplomacy instead of military action in the region, is scheduled to return today after visiting American troops and military facilities in Qatar, Turkey and Kuwait. She joined Reps. David Hobson (R-Ohio) and John Murtha (D-Pa.) on the three-day visit, designed to review military and intelligence issues and show support for U.S. armed forces abroad.

“This is her first trip abroad as leader,” said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly, noting that her first domestic trip was with Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) to Whiteman Air Force Base, home to troops deployed to the Middle East.

Pelosi joins other high-ranking Democrats with concerns about military action in Iraq. She differed with her predecessor — Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) — last year when the House considered a resolution authorizing use of force against the Middle Eastern nation. Gephardt, who is seeking the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, supported the measure, while Pelosi joined 125 other Democrats in voting against it.

The new leader has remained leery of any unilateral action and isn’t expected to stray from that position Friday when she speaks to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Pelosi, who stepped down as ranking member of the Intelligence Committee when she became Minority Leader, plans to talk broadly about the U.S. approach to foreign affairs, as well as the looming war in Iraq.

“This is her first major foreign policy address,” said Daly. “She looks forward to the opportunity to share with the council her views on foreign policy and America’s role in the world.”

Pelosi has consistently said that the United States should pursue all diplomatic options for disarming Iraq and shouldn’t pursue a war alone. Already some 200,000 troops have been deployed to the region, and Bush has said he’s not yet satisfied that Iraq has fully complied with the United Nations resolution approved unanimously last fall.

“She thinks we can use diplomatic and other means to disarm Saddam Hussein,” Daly said, but “if the troops are called into action, she has said many times she will support them 100 percent.”

In addition to talking about the current situation, Daly said Pelosi will also address the council about what she believes will happen if the United States goes to war and what should occur after the conflict.

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