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Pence leaves for Middle East as government shutdown looms

Vice President Mike Pence went ahead with his delayed trip to the Middle East on Friday, despite the looming governme...

Posted: Jan 20, 2018 3:25 PM
Updated: Jan 20, 2018 3:26 PM

Vice President Mike Pence went ahead with his delayed trip to the Middle East on Friday, despite the looming government shutdown.

"The vice president's meetings with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Israel are integral to America's national security and diplomatic objectives, therefore the vice president will travel to the Middle East as scheduled," said Alyssa Farah, Pence's press secretary.

Pence left for his Middle East trip Friday night

Lawmakers were working to avert a government shutdown

In the hours leading up to his international departure, Pence had been having conversations with members of Congress to avoid a shutdown, one source tells CNN.

Pence, a former congressman who has helped lead Capitol Hill outreach for the White House, worked the phones on Thursday, calling GOP members about federal government funding and the potential shutdown.

The vice president is already taking his Middle East swing later than originally scheduled, after he delayed the visit to remain in Washington last month for the Senate tax vote.

Pence travels to the Middle East amid heightened tensions in the region following President Donald Trump's recognition last month of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The vice president is expecting to be be faced with many questions about the decision, particularly while visiting Egypt and Jordan, both of whose leaders have been critical of Trump's decision.

A senior White House official said they are expecting the issue to come up, adding, "We are prepared for that topic."

"The main theme for the vice president is going to be looking forward," the official said. "And how can all of the parties work together at this juncture and try to find out the best path forward for peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

While in the Middle East, Pence will not meet with any officials from the Palestinian territories. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas canceled his scheduled meeting in December with Pence in the wake of the Jerusalem announcement.

In Egypt and Jordan, the vice president will hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of both countries, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Abdullah II, where counterterrorism discussions will be at the top of the agenda as well as the situation in Syria.

In Israel, the vice president will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and will spend the second day of his trip in Israel visiting holy sites including the Western Wall and Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem.

Pence will also deliver remarks to Israeli's parliament, or Knesset, where he would "take (the) opportunity to highlight the fact that he's speaking in Jerusalem the Capital of Israel," officials say.

In his speech to the Knesset, as well as in his discussions with Israeli leaders, Pence is expected to speak at length about Iran and its influence in the region and around the world.

"It's an opportunity to sit down with our most cherished ally in the region to represent the President and to sit down and talk not only about regional stability but also about the US-Israeli relationship with an eye of countering Iranian malign influence and security in the form of Iranian proxies and how we can both work together to help mitigate that threat," a senior White House official said.

In all these countries, Pence will also highlight his work with the US Agency for International Development, focused on relief efforts for persecuted religious minorities.

Last October, Pence announced that the Trump administration will no longer fund "ineffective" programs run by the United Nations to help persecuted communities and will instead send money to such groups directly through USAID.

Senior White House officials stressed the importance of the program to the vice president and added that Pence will raise the issue at each stop.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5656118
DeSoto368031
Harrison253036
Madison244368
Rankin229235
Jackson228843
Jones191659
Forrest182056
Washington168942
Lee147941
Lauderdale141192
Neshoba128692
Lamar122614
Oktibbeha112739
Bolivar111834
Warren109533
Lowndes108538
Panola106214
Sunflower105425
Scott100320
Lafayette98317
Copiah95728
Leflore94765
Pike93836
Holmes90049
Grenada84921
Yazoo83312
Lincoln83241
Pontotoc8308
Simpson80330
Monroe80155
Leake79025
Wayne77421
Coahoma77213
Tate73629
Marshall7019
Marion68420
Union64316
Adams62925
Winston62316
Covington62113
George5895
Pearl River55439
Newton54311
Tallahatchie53011
Attala52325
Walthall50120
Chickasaw47019
Noxubee45912
Alcorn4345
Tishomingo4216
Calhoun4209
Prentiss41710
Claiborne40913
Smith40613
Clay39714
Hancock39514
Jasper3889
Itawamba37510
Tippah36713
Tunica3517
Clarke32626
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3228
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29411
Quitman2701
Carroll26111
Greene25512
Perry2437
Amite2356
Webster23512
Kemper23414
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21113
Stone2055
Sharkey1995
Jefferson1957
Benton1431
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena262
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
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