Sisi, Pence discuss bilateral relations, regional developments and Trump's Jerusalem decision

Ahram Online , Sunday 21 Jan 2018

Sisi and Pence
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and US Vice President Mike Pence ( Photo: Spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency)

Egyptian President Adbel-Fattah El-Sisi told US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday that only negotiations based on a two-state solution can end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, six weeks after President Donald Trump's announcement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

El-Sisi made his comments during Pence's brief visit to Cairo at the start of a three-nation Mideast tour that includes stops in Jordan and Israel.

In a meeting with Pence, El-Sisi affirmed Egypt's "firm position on the Palestinian issue," pointing out that the "settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will only be achieved through negotiations based on the two-state solution," El-Sisi's spokesman Bassam Rady said.

The Egyptian leader added that "Egypt would spare no effort to support this."

Pence told reporters after the meeting that El-Sisi described his opposition to Trump's decision as a "disagreement between friends," Reuters quoted him as saying.

Pence assured El- Sisi that the United States was committed to preserving the status quo regarding holy sites in Jerusalem and had come to no final resolution on boundaries for the two parties, according to Reuters.

El-Sisi reiterated Cairo's support for the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

During the talks, Pence pledged firm US support for Cairo's fight against extremists.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with you and Egypt in fighting against terrorism," Pence was quoted as saying.

The US VP pointed to President Donald Trump's efforts to strengthen ties with Egypt in his first year in office, "after a time when our countries seemed to be drifting apart," according to Reuters.

El-Sisi hailed longstanding strategic ties between Cairo and Washington, saying they are "one of the pillars of stability in the Middle East."

The Egyptian president discussed the tough economic reform measures the Egyptian government is implementing to shore up the country's economy, inviting major US companies to take part in key development projects being carried out.

Pence left Cairo to meet Jordan's King Abdullah II, a close US ally who has rejected Trump's move on Jerusalem, in Amman on Sunday. 

Pence is traveling to Israel later on Sunday.

He told reporters that Washington "is deeply committed to restarting the peace process in the Middle East."

Trump's December decision to move the US embassy in Israel prompted an outcry from Palestinians, Middle East leaders and the wider international community, setting off protests in the occupied territories and across the region.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has warned that the United States can no longer play any role in future peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Officials from Arab countries and several world powers have insisted that the final status of Jerusalem should only be determined through negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

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