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1ST LEAD US vice president lands for Middle East visit amid Jerusalem tensions By Ramadan Al-Fatash, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Cairo (dpa) - US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Cairo on Saturday, kicking off a trip to the Middle East overshadowed by tensions sparked by President Donald Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital.

Pence‘s four-day visit is the first by a senior US official to the Middle East since December 6, when Trump announced his plan to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In Egypt, Pence was expected to meet with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi for talks on the Jerusalem decision, which Cairo has rejected, state-run newspaper al-Akhbar.

Pence and al-Sissi were also expected to discuss anti-terrorism cooperation.

Egypt‘s top Muslim and Christian leaders have cancelled meetings with Pence in protest of 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, key US allies in the region, 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, 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.

Trump‘s move on Jerusalem reversed a long-standing US policy that left the status of the city to be decided at final Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

Pence is seen as a driving force behind the shift in the US policy on decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

Washington this week further incensed Arabs when it cut tens of millions of dollars in aid for a UN agency that provides services for Palestinian refugees.

The State Department said Tuesday that it had notified the UN Relief and Works Agency that the US was withholding 65 million of a total of 120 million dollars in funding pledged as a "first tranche" in 2018.


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"Israel" (Hebrew: מדינת ישראל "Medinat Yisra-el"; Arabic دولَة إِسرائيل "Dawlat Isrā"īl") is a small yet diverse Middle Eastern country with a long coastline on the eastern
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(24.02.2018 05:26)

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