Sen. Ben Nelson has a long trip planned for this Memorial Day weekend, a business trip.
Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will be traveling to the Middle East during a time of great flux for the region. Earlier this week, the Senate approved increased economic sanctions and even the threat of military action if Iran doesn’t give up trying to build nuclear weapons. Egyptians have begun voting in the first presidential elections in the country’s history.
Nelson told reporters during a conference call this morning that Iran’s nuclear ambitions need to be curbed.
“While Iran has denied that it wants to acquire nuclear weapons, the country still has uranium enrichment sites and they haven’t allowed inspections as of yet,” Nelson stated.
Nelson called talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) productive. Iran has also held talks with the United Nations Security Council, which includes the United States.
In the middle of that tension, the promise of elections blooms in Egypt.
“This is an important time to be visiting the Middle East, not only because of Iran, but for many other reasons, including Egypt’s first, free presidential election year, ever,” said Nelson.
Nelson said he would be landing in Egypt in the middle of the elections. Egyptians vote today and tomorrow, choosing from a field of 13. Observers do not expect an outright winner after the first two days of voting. If not, a runoff between the top two vote-getters is scheduled to be held June 16th and 17th. A winner should be announced by the 21st.
Nelson is traveling by himself on an official congressional fact-finding trip, according to his office. Nelson has oversight responsibilities for many issues tied to the Middle East as a member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees. He leaves Friday for Egypt, and then travels to Saudi Arabia. Nelson returns to the United States Tuesday.
AUDIO: Sen. Nelson discusses his upcoming Middle East trip [2:30]