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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

US vice president Mike Pence to visit Egypt, Jordan, Israel in January

The trip to the Middle East was originally planned for last month when President Donald Trump made his controversial Jerusalem decision

US Vice President Mike Pence is visiting the Middle East at the end of January. Susan Walsh/ AP Photo
US Vice President Mike Pence is visiting the Middle East at the end of January. Susan Walsh/ AP Photo

US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel from January 20 to 23 on a tour, which was originally planned for last month after President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mr Pence will hold talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, Jordan's King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement on Monday.

Mr Pence, a strong supporter of the US president's decision on Jerusalem, will also visit the city's Western Wall and give a speech at the Israeli parliament, it said.

Mr Trump's decision on Jerusalem and announcement in December that the United States would start the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv led to uproar and protest in the region.

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"At President Trump's direction, the vice president is travelling to the Middle East to reaffirm our commitment to work with the US's allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations," said Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Mr Pence.

He plans to discuss with the three leaders "ways to work together to fight terrorism and improve our national security," she added.

The status of Jerusalem, which is home to Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites, is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who were furious over Mr Trump's move and have declined to meet with Mr Pence. The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the full city.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal capital, while Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

Mr Pence postponed a planned visit to Egypt and Israel last month to stay in Washington for a congressional vote on Trump's tax overhaul plan.