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US Vice President Mike Pence still to head to Middle East despite government shutdown threat

Pence will arrive in Cairo on January 20 for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, heading the following day to Amman for a one-on-one with King Abdullah II.

Published: 19th January 2018 10:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2018 10:53 PM   |  A+A-

US Vice President Mike Pence (Photo | AP)

By AFP

WASHINGTON: US Vice President Mike Pence will still head to the Middle East late Friday for a high-stakes trip, despite the threat of a federal government shutdown looming over Washington, his spokeswoman said.

"The vice president's meetings with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel are integral to America's national security and diplomatic objectives," his press secretary Alyssa Farah told AFP.

"The vice president will travel to the Middle East as scheduled."

A US official said the decision would not be changed no matter what happens Friday on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats must reach a deal before midnight to avoid a partial shutdown of federal government services.

Initially set for late December, Pence's trip was pushed back as the region reeled from deadly protests triggered by President Donald Trump's controversial decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- in a break with decades of US policy.

Another source of tension is the US decision this week to freeze tens of millions of dollars meant for the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians (UNRWA).

Pence will arrive in Cairo on January 20 for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, heading the following day to Amman for a one-on-one with King Abdullah II.

His trip will conclude on January 22-23 with a two-day visit to Israel, where he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, deliver a speech to the Knesset, visit the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.



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