Vice President Mike Pence met with Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on Saturday on the first leg of a trip to the volatile Mideast.
Meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo, the two leaders discussed ways to combat the growing terror threat in the region.
Pence listened as el-Sissi cited the need to address “urgent issues,” including “ways to eliminate this disease and cancer that has terrified the whole world.”
Pence said that “we stand shoulder to shoulder with you and Egypt in fighting against terrorism,” and that “our hearts grieve” for the loss of life in recent terrorist attacks against Egyptians, referring to a December attack against Christians where at least nine people were killed, and a November attack at a mosque in Northern Sinai where another 311 people were killed.
“We resolve to continue to stand with Egypt in the battle against terrorism,” Pence said.
Pence arrived in Cairo hours after Congress and President Donald Trump failed to reach agreement on a plan to avert a partial federal closure. Pence went ahead with his four-day trip to the Middle East, citing national security and diplomatic reasons.
Pence is set to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday and visit with U.S. troops in the region. He will also travel to Israel but he is not expected to meet with Palestinian officials.
His visit to the region came more than a month after Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a step that’s enraged Palestinians. El-Sissi identified “the peace issue” as one of the most important issues in their discussions.
“We heard President el-Sissi out,” Pence said. “He said to me about what he said publicly about a disagreement between friends over our decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Pence said he assured el-Sissi that “we’re absolutely committed to preserving the status quo with regard to holy sites in Jerusalem, that we have come to no final resolution about boundaries or other issues that will be negotiated. … I reminded President el-Sissi that President Trump said that if the parties agree, we will support a two-state solution. My perception was that he was encouraged by that message.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.