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losangelesnewstoday.com January 23, 2018


US Vice President postpones trip to Middle East until January

21 December 2017, 01:01 | Katrina Lee

US Vice President postpones trip to Middle East until January

US Vice President postpones trip to Middle East until January

US Vice President Mike Pence has delayed a visit to the Middle East for a second time, the White House said Monday, to focus on the tax vote on Capitol Hill.

With pence Middle East trip delayed until January, Mike Pence could become the official envoy of President Trump bringing the sweeteners for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Therefore, to get the most out of the trip, the Vice President will now be traveling in mid-January.

The schedule shift follows President Donald Trump's December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital that prompted Palestinian officials and leading Muslim and Christian clerics in Egypt to refuse to meet with Pence, forcing him to adjust his schedule.

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.

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"The vice president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line", she added. Now that the vote could come either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, the official said they had made a decision to move the trip to the week of January 14 to have more time in the region and to possibly meet with more leaders. In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which was originally a scheduled stop on Pence's tour, religious leaders turned off the city's Christmas tree lights earlier to protest the White House announcement.

Pence's planned tour included a visit to Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, followed by a visit to Israel, where the vice president was set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

But after Trump's decision earlier this month on Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority declined the meeting. On Monday, the United States, using its veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, blocked a council resolution demanding that the Trump administration rescind its decision. The vice president wanted to make sure that he was in place to break a tie if it were necessary, the official said. While they have not yet rescheduled his meetings, officials said that they hope the vice president will be able to keep all of his original appointments and perhaps visit additional countries in the region.



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