US Vice President Mike Pence (L) shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi (R) - File photo
CAIRO – 21 January 2018: In the highest-level American official visit to Egypt Since 2009, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi received on Saturday US Vice President Mike Pence at the presidential palace in Cairo. The American official has started a Middle East tour that also includes Jordan and Israel with the aim to boost peace process in the region.
Al-Sisi and Pence held intensive talks over a number of urgent issues, including ways to eliminate the threat of terrorism that has terrified the whole world. Pence pointed to President Donald Trump’s efforts to forge stronger ties with Al-Sisi in his first year in office, after a time when both countries seemed to be drifting apart.
Pence tweeted “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Egypt in the fight against terrorism,” and that “our hearts grieve” for the loss of life in recent terrorist attacks against Egyptians.
Pence’s visit came amid Egyptian and Arab anger over Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, breaking the long-standing U.S. policy in the Middle East. Pence had been scheduled to meet Al Azhar’s Grand Imam, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, and Coptic Pope Tawadros II during the current visit, but both religious leaders revoked their invitations.
The Arab League held an emergency meeting for Arab foreign ministers on December 10, where they discussed measures that will be taken to deal with the U.S. decision in terms to defending occupied Jerusalem and its legal, historical and religious status.
“Egypt was one of the first countries to defend the Palestinian cause since 1948 and always called for achieving comprehensive peace at different international occasions,” the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said.
He added, “It is unacceptable to turn a blind eye on the Palestinians’ right to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Shoukry stressed that achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis is a key Arab strategic choice that comes in accordance with international law and related Security Council resolutions, as well as the Arab peace initiative launched in 2002 based on the “land for peace” principle and the two-state solution.
Egypt helped to broker a Palestinian reconciliation deal last year between the Gaza-based Islamist Hamas faction and the nationalist Fatah movement in Ramallah, which it viewed as a precursor to new and substantive talks with Israel. Even though, Egypt's diplomatic efforts went in vein after the American move.