U.S. Vice President Mike Pence – Official Facebook Page
CAIRO – 26 October 2017: Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday during a religious dinner in Washington that he will visit Egypt in late December, according to the Associated Press (AP). During his visit, Pence will meet President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi to highlight U.S.-Egypt cooperation on security issues.
"President Trump has directed me to go to the Middle East in late December," Pence said in a keynote speech delivered at In Defense of Christians' annual solidarity dinner for Christians in the Middle East.
His visit aims to have Pence gather with religious leaders to discuss ways to address the persecution against Christians and all religious minorities across the Middle East.
"One of the messages that I will bring on the president's behalf to leaders across the region is that now is the time to bring an end to the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities."
His trip will also take him to Israel during Hanukkah to discuss the prospects of a Middle East peace agreement in separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
He revealed that President Donald Trump has issued instructions to U.S. State Department to pull out funding from ineffective UN programs on persecuted and displaced religious minorities and redirect the money to programs run by the American agency for International Development and private organizations.
Pence has accused the UN of failing to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities that do not receive the relief they need, and has stated that that is why Trump pulled out funding. This stressed Trump administration’s commitment to helping persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East, Pence noted.
"From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID," said Pence. "Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly."
He bemoaned the “unprecedented assault” on Christianity in the Middle East, pointing to incidents like Palm Sunday church bombings targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt and attacks on Christian communities in Syria.
However, the State Department did not comment on Pence’s speech. U.S. Mission to the UN referred all questions about that matter to the White House, which did not respond on exactly which UN programs would be affected by that, mentioned AP.
In April, the Trump administration halted its assistance to the UN Population Fund accusing the agency of supporting population control programs.
The Trump administration has also signaled that it no longer sees a need for the U.S. “to so generously fund the UN and other international organizations,” reported AP. The White House has proposed cutting roughly one-third of the State Department's budget, with much of it expected to come from foreign aid and global organization dollars, although Congress is expected to restore at least some of that funding.