GOP leader Cantor to take delegation to France, Middle East

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will lead a congressional delegation to France and the Middle East, his office announced Thursday. 

"This trip will provide a critical opportunity for a bipartisan group of lawmakers to consult with some of our nation’s key partners across the Middle East and Europe," Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement. The delegation will leave in the "coming week."

Cantor said lawmakers on the trip will be focused on Iran and its nuclear-weapons program.

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"I look forward to discussing a wide range of issues, including the very concerning threat posed to the entire world by Iran's continuing support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear capability," Cantor said.

"By visiting this critical region at a time of such significance, we will be better informed to work together to address our concerns with Iran, the pressing threats of terrorism, regional instability and political transition and the global economic crisis."

Members on the delegation will include Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Kay Granger (R-Texas.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Cantor's announcement comes a week after President Obama signed into law new sanctions on Iran as part of his 2012 defense authorization bill. The Treasury Department also announced Wednesday that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner would travel to China and Japan to encourage China to support new sanctions on Iran.

Pressure is also coming from Europe. Reuters reported on Wednesday that countries in the European Union are on the verge of imposing an embargo on Iranian oil imports, a move that would be devastating for Iran's economy.

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