The Latest: VP Pence still plans trip to Middle East

Mike Pence, Karen Pence
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the Middle East (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence still plans to travel to the Middle East on Friday night, despite the potential for a shutdown of the federal government.

The vice president’s spokeswoman says Pence’s trip to Egypt, Jordan and Israel will proceed as scheduled, and that it’s “integral” to U.S. national security and diplomacy.

President Trump has scrapped plans to travel to his Florida resort amid the threat of a shutdown. Congress must act by midnight or the shutdown will go into effect.

Air Force Two is scheduled to refuel in Ireland after midnight Saturday en route to Cairo.

Pence is set to meet Saturday with Egypt’s president and Sunday with the king of Jordan. He meets Monday and Tuesday with Israeli leaders.

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1:17 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is making his fifth visit to Israel, returning to a region he’s visited “a million times” in his heart.

An evangelical Christian with strong ties to the Holy Land, Pence this time comes packing two key policy decisions in his bags that have long been top priorities for him: designating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and curtailing aid for Palestinians.

Since his days in Congress a decade ago, Pence has played a role in pushing both for the shift in U.S. policy related to the capital and for placing limits on funding for Palestinian causes long criticized by Israel.

Traveling to Israel just as Palestinians have condemned recent decisions by President Donald Trump’s administration.

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