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Pence arrives in Jordan as part of Middle East tour

US VP tells Sisi that Washington still backs two-state solution

By Agencies - Jan 20,2018 - Last updated at Jan 20,2018

A protester waves a Palestinian flag during a protest against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in Khan Younis district of Gaza City, Gaza, on Friday (Anadolu Agency photo)

US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Amman late Saturday as part of a regional tour, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Pence is scheduled to meet His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday. 

The vice president on Saturday told Egypt’s leader the US would support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians if the two sides agreed, seeking to reassure a key Arab ally over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Reuters reported. 

“We heard President Al Sisi out,” Pence told reporters after their meeting, saying the Egyptian leader described his objection to Trump’s decision as a “disagreement between friends”.


Pence said he assured Sisi that the US was committed to preserving the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem and had come to no final resolution on boundaries for the two parties.

“My perception was that he was encouraged by that message,” Pence said.

“[Sisi] noted that a solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will only come through negotiations based on a two-state solution, and Egypt would spare no effort to support this,” a statement from the Egyptian presidency said. 

The vice president kicked off a trip to the Middle East on Saturday with the visit to Egypt, where he also pledged firm US backing in the nation’s fight against militants.

Pence said ties between the two countries had never been stronger after a period of “drifting apart” and Trump sent his gratitude to Sisi for implementing economic reforms.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in Egypt in the fight against terrorism,” Pence said.

Sisi said the two men discussed ways to eliminate the “disease and cancer” of terrorism and called Trump a friend.

Pence is on a three-country tour that also includes Israel. This is the highest-level visit from a US official to the region since December, when Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

That decision, which reversed decades of US policy and set in motion the process of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, upset leaders in the Arab world and prompted Palestinians to reject the United States as a broker for peace.

Pence, a conservative Christian who was one of the driving forces behind the move, and Sisi did not discuss the Jerusalem decision during their public remarks in front of reporters, according to Reuters.

Egypt has faced security problems, including attacks by Daesh militants in the North Sinai region. Trump has made the fight against Daesh a top priority.
Pence is not scheduled to meet Palestinian leaders. They were incensed by Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, which upended the longstanding US position that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must determine the city’s status.


The Trump administration’s recent announcement that it was withholding about half of the aid it was due to give to a United Nations relief agency that serves the Palestinians raised questions about fledgling US efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and further undermined Arabs’ faith that the United States can act as an impartial arbitrator.
Pence also plans to visit with US troops while he is in the region.

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