Pence, who landed in Cairo on Saturday, is the most senior US politician to visit the region since US President Donald Trump announced on December 6 that Washington would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The US vice president met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo’s presidential palace, where the pair discussed bilateral ties between the two countries.
They also spoke about ways to eliminate what Sisi called the “disease and cancer” of terrorism.
His trip was initially scheduled to take place in December but was delayed apparently so that Pence could oversee a US congressional vote on tax reform, in which he could potentially have had to cast a deciding vote.
Landed in Cairo – our meetings w/ the leaders of Egypt, Jordan & Israel are critical to our Nation's national security objectives. Important 1st meet w/ @AlsisiOfficial to discuss ways to fight terrorism & keep our countries SAFE. #VPinEgypt pic.twitter.com/Cd05Z0kyOw
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) January 20, 2018
Jordan’s King Abdullah is also due to meet Pence, but other senior Arab figures have made clear they do not wish to meet him.
Trump’s decision sparked anger across Palestine and the wider Arab and Muslim world and earned the US angry rebuke from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who vowed not to receive Pence in the Palestinian territories.
Mahdi Abdel Hadi, a Palestinian political analyst, said the Palestinians were sending the Trump administration a “clear message”.
“You cannot meet people when they insult you and humiliate you, when they ignore you and side with your enemy,” said Abdel Hadi.
“[Palestinians] have to pass a clear message that we are angry, this cannot continue and it would be hypocrisy if we meet you.”
Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders in Egypt, have similarly vowed not to meet the US vice president.
In December, a statement by the Coptic Orthodox church on behalf of Pope Tawadros II, said Trump’s decision ignored the “feelings of millions of Arab people”.
The imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque also said at the time that he would not meet Pence.
“How can I sit with those who granted what they do not own to those who do not deserve it?” said Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.