US Vice President Mike Pence (AP)
US Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Egypt next week, kicking off a MENA tour that was originally scheduled for December but suspended after US President Donald Trump's controversial move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In an official press release on Monday, the White House said Pence will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel on January 19-23, where he will “address the shared need to combat terrorism and assist persecuted religious minorities”.
According to the press release, Pence will depart on January 19 and will arrive in Egypt on January 20, where he will meet with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
He will then depart to Jordan on the 21 January, where he will meet King Abdullah II. He will then visit Israel on 22-23 January, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
“The vice president is looking forward to meeting with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel to discuss ways to work together to fight terrorism and improve our national security,” press secretary for the vice president Alyssa Farah said.
According to Farah, the visit is intended to “reaffirm our commitment to work with the United States’ allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations.”
In December, several Egyptian religious leaders, including Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II and head of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, cancelled their meetings with Pence in protest against Trump’s Jerusalem move.
US officials have said then the reason behind the delay was Pence’s commitments for a Congressional vote on Trump's tax overhaul plan.
Egypt has long maintained its support for the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.