U.S. vice president postpones visit, but envoy still coming

In Middle East Pence must address realities of Iranian encroachment
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21 December, 2017

Pence's visit was supposed to begin on Tuesday night, with a stop for a meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, followed by a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a visit to the Western Wall, and a speech at the Knesset.

"The tax vote is still in very good shape, but we don't want to take any chances whatsoever", said a senior administration official.

But in the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and a backlash from the region's leaders, including many Christians, Pence won't be visiting any churches or meeting any Christian leaders. Egypt called for the resolution, which did not name the United States or Trump but expressed "deep regret at certain decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem", and asserted that "Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations". The Vice President is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line. However, Pence's office confirmed on Monday that his visit would be pushed back again until January 2018, Politico reported.

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday postponed his trip to Egypt and Israel until mid-January, citing the need to preside over the Senate on a sweeping tax overhaul.

The itinerary had already seen several cancellations following Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but the White House attributed the rescheduling for domestic reasons.

Georgia's ex-President Saakashvili detained in Ukraine
Interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the matter was now with the courts who had to decide whether to place the former president of Georgia in pre-trial detention.

Suddenly, half of Pence's meetings were canceled.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had also said he would not meet Pence during his trip.

With the Senate vote now expected late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, White House officials said Monday that Pence's trip could not be shortened or delayed any further, so they chose to postpone. The vice president wanted to make sure that he was in place to break a tie if it were necessary, the official said.

Senator John McCain's return home to Arizona to fight cancer has left Republicans with a razor-thin margin to push the legislation over the finishing line. "We'll obviously still go to Egypt and Israel, but we may add additional countries", the official said.


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