Egypt's government on Sunday denied and harshly criticized a New York Times report that said Cairo has quietly sought to convince the Egyptian public to accept the USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, despite publicly opposing it.
The delayed Middle East tour will take place from 20 to 23 January and see Pence visiting Egypt and Jordan in a bid to mend relations after the controversial Jerusalem decision.
"At President Trump's direction, the vice president is traveling to the Middle East to reaffirm our commitment to work with the U.S.'s allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations", Pence spokesperson Alyssa Farah said in a statement.
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The newspaper said in a report published Saturday that it obtained audio recordings in which an Egyptian intelligence officer, speaking with influential talk show hosts, asked them to downplay the significance of US President Donald Trump's decision.
A spokeswoman for Pence indicated "working together to fight terrorism and to improve national security" will be among topics of discussion.
Trump's decision broke with a central premise of 50 years of American-sponsored peace talks, defied decades of Arab demands that East Jerusalem be the capital of a Palestinian state, and stoked fears of a violent backlash across West Asia.
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Egypt was among one of the first countries to criticise the decision by US President Donald Trump, which prompted widespread global condemnation and deadly protests in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Palestinian officials have pressured local church leaders to reject Pence's visit and follow the example of the Egyptian Coptic Church whose pope has refused to meet the United States vice president due to the decision.
Before Trump's announcement, Abbas was scheduled to meet with Pence in the biblical town of Bethlehem. The White House decision on Jerusalem also prompted leading Muslim and Christian clerics in Egypt to refuse to meet with the vice-president in Cairo.
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Israeli leaders have long said Jerusalem has been quietly cultivating its ties with Arab states, in the face of commons threats posed by Iran and Islamist extremism. He reportedly backed out of a planned interview with the Times. He told the hosts that instead of condemning the decision, they should persuade their viewers to accept it. Palestinians, he suggested, should content themselves with the dreary West Bank town that now houses the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah. "Concessions are a must and if we reach a concession whereby Jerusalem will be - Ramallah will be the capital of Palestine, to end the war and so no one else dies, then we would go for it".
The statement pointed out that Egypt sponsored a United Nations resolution opposing the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, despite threats by Washington to reduce aid. Jordan has a large population of Palestinian origin, and the king serves as guardian of the third holiest site of Islam, located in east Jerusalem.
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