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Pence delays Israel, Egypt trip as tax vote nears

US Vice President Mike Pence

US Vice President Mike Pence

Washington : US Vice President Mike Pence, who was scheduled to travel to Egypt and Israel on Tuesday, has postponed his trip until next month to ensure the Senate passage of the much-awaited Republican tax bill, the media reported.

“The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans,” Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement on Monday.

“The vice president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line.”

Pence is now expected to leave for Egypt, Israel and potentially additional countries in the region the week of January 14, senior White House officials said, though the revised trip is still being planned, reports CNN.

A White House official said that while the tax vote is still in “very good shape”, Pence — who can serve as a tiebreaking vote in the Senate — does not want to take any chances, especially in light of Senator John McCain’s expected absence due to health issues.

The trip was also slated to take place as Palestinians continue to protest President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, though the White House officials insisted the unrest and security concerns were not a reason for the postponement.

Meanwhile Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cancelled his scheduled meeting with Pence in the wake of the Jerusalem announcement, as did the top Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders in Egypt.

A senior White House official declined to say whether Pence would seek to put his meeting back on with Abbas, who has said the US should no longer be involved in the peace process, in light of the postponement.

—IANS

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