Sen. Hatch visits Portugal and Germany to meet heads of state — and also tour a Mormon temple

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, arrives for hearing on the nomination of Charles Rettig for Internal Revenue Service Commissioner, Thursday, June 28, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate is assessing President Donald Trump's choice to head the IRS, Charles Rettig, a Beverly Hills tax lawyer who would face the colossal challenge of overseeing the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in three decades. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch spent this week visiting Portugal and Germany, meeting their heads of state and mixing in a visit to an LDS temple under construction and laying a wreath at a former concentration camp with a top Mormon church leader.

Hatch’s office said the senator – who as the longest serving Republican, is the Senate president pro tempore – was invited to the two European countries to further bilateral relations as well as discuss trade.

In Germany, Hatch, along with Dieter Uchtdorf, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, met with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

I am grateful to Chancellor Merkel for inviting me to Germany and giving me the personal honor to mark our shared history and partnership together,” Hatch said in a statement. “I am one of the few who have seen Germany rise up from the ashes of WWII and grow to become one of America’s closest allies during the heady days of the Cold War. This week, I am reminded that we can build a better future together only by protecting our shared history and values.”

Hatch’s brother Jesse died fighting for the United States in World War II.

Hatch and Uchtdorf also laid a wreath at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp to honor those who perished under Nazi rule. Hatch is on the board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

While in Portugal, Hatch met with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who had just met with President Donald Trump in Washington the prior week. The two discussed “ways of deepening US and Portuguese military, cultural, and commercial cooperation,” Hatch’s office said.

Hatch also took time to visit a new temple being built in Lisbon by the LDS Church and met with the U.S. 65th Air Base Group at the Lajes Field Air Force Base, celebrating the Fourth of July with the airmen.

The trip was funded by taxpayers as part of Hatch’s official duties in the Senate. The senator’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.