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  • Pence is set to visit Cairo on Dec. 20.

    Pence is set to visit Cairo on Dec. 20. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 10 December 2017
Opinion

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also declined to participate in a planned meeting with Pence.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt said, in a statement, it will "excused itself from hosting" U.S. Vice President Mike Pence when he treks to the African nation on Dec. 20.

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Multiple reports said the leader of the church pulled the plug on the meeting to protest the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The release said U.S. President DonaldTrump's decision “did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people,” adding that the church would pray for "wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East."

The Egyptian Coptic Christians are the largest religious minority in the region, about 10% of the 93-million population, Deutsche Welle reported. On Saturday, the church issued the statement on behalf of Pope Tawadros II to show solidarity for Palestine leaders – who have labeled the U.S. deputy leader as persona non grata in occupied territories.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declined to participate in a planned meeting with Pence, citing Washington's decision as "counterproductive" for peace in the region.

"There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine," Majdi al-Khaldi, a Palestinian diplomatic adviser, told AFP. "The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision," he added.

According to Egyptian media, the grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque also declined to meet with Pence. "How can I sit with those who granted what they do not own to those who do not deserve it?" the Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb questioned.

Trump, against the advice of some of his fellow Republicans, formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday.

The U.S. president's statement, which included the decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, drew widespread condemnation from allies, protests in occupied Palestinian territories and several Muslim countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said would likely take several years before the embassy is relocated.

Germany, China and Russia are among the countries that oppose the move. Demonstrations continue across Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey; two people reportedly died with 760 injured, Deutsche Welle reported.

Pence is scheduled to visit Israel and Palestinian city Bethlehem during the trip.

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