Amid multiple crises, Obama holds foreign policy meeting with congressional lawmakers



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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama huddled with congressional lawmakers Thursday to discuss the numerous foreign policy crises facing his administration, including tensions with Russia and the war between Israel and Hamas.

The meeting came amid rampant criticism of Obama's foreign policy from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Some of those who have criticized Obama were among the 14 lawmakers who attended Thursday's meeting, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said shortly before the discussion that the president would leave the world "a more dangerous place" for his predecessor.

Obama was joined in the meeting by Vice President Joe Biden and several top foreign policy advisers. The White House said the meeting occurred at Obama's request.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Obama spoke about a number of issues: the crisis in Ukraine, the clashes in Gaza, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama also discussed the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have arrived.

Durbin said Obama faced no pushback from lawmakers on the administration's efforts to seek a cease-fire in Gaza. The president has been taking an increasingly tough line with Israel over the mounting civilian casualties at the same time lawmakers from both parties press him to avoid pressuring Israel to halt its military operations.

Durbin said the president and lawmakers agreed that no country should be expected to tolerate thousands of rocket attacks.

"Israel has to defend itself," he said. The senator added that Obama reported no progress on reaching a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

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