US vice president visits Middle East amid tensions over Jerusalem

Cairo - US Vice President Mike Pence kicks off his trip to the Middle East on Saturday in Egypt overshadowed by tensions sparked by President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The four-day visit will also take Pence to Jordan and Israel, two other key US allies in the region.
Pence's trip is the first by a senior US official to the Middle East since Trump announced last month his plan to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In Egypt, Pence is to meet with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. The country's top Muslim and Christian leaders have cancelled meetings with Pence in protest at Trump's move on Jerusalem.
On Sunday, Pence will travel to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II.
Pence will Monday make a two-day visit to Israel where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and address the Knesset.
Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel.
The White House said Pence would discuss the "shared need to combat terrorism and assist persecuted religious minorities" during the trip.
Pence's Middle East will "reaffirm our commitment to work with the United States' allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations," his spokeswoman said this week.
Trump's move on Jerusalem, Islam's third holiest site, has unleashed outrage across the Muslim and Arab worlds.
Israel claims Jerusalem as its "undivided capital," while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Saturday, January 20th 2018

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