CAIRO – US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Egypt on Saturday on his first stop of a Middle East tour that will include Jordan and Israel.
Pence’s visit comes at a time of growing tension in the region following Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The trip, which is set to continue until Jan. 23, aims to address the shared necessity to combat terrorism and aid persecuted religious minorities, according to a statement from the vice president’s office.
The note also said that Pence’s meetings with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Israel are fundamental to the national security and diplomatic objectives of the United States.
Pence is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi before traveling to Jordan, where he will consult with King Abdullah II on Sunday.
On Monday, the US vice president will visit Israel, where he is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
The tour comes a month and a half after US President Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy of his country, which is currently in Tel Aviv, to the holy city.
That decision unleashed the wrath of Palestinians, to the extent that Palestine’s President Mahmud Abbas announced he would not meet with Pence during his visit to Israel.
In Egypt, both Ahmed al-Tayeb, bearer of the prestigious Sunni Islam title of grand imam of al-Azhar, and the pope of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, Tawadros II, rejected Pence’s invitation to meet with them as a result of the US decision.