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Coptic Pope Refuses to Meet US Vice President over Jerusalem Row

Coptic Pope Refuses to Meet US Vice President over Jerusalem Row

Saturday, 9 December, 2017 - 17:45
The leader of Egypt's Coptic Church Pope Tawadros II walks outside the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 2015. (AP)

Egypt’s Coptic Church refused on Saturday a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the country later in December.

The rejection stems from Washington’s decision on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, MENA state news agency reported on Saturday.

The Church "excused itself from hosting Mike Pence" when he visits Egypt, citing President Donald Trump's decision "at an unsuitable time and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people", MENA said.

In Cairo, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said the Palestinians will seek a UN Security Council resolution over Trump's decision on Jerusalem.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron will work together to try to persuade the United States to reconsider the move, a Turkish presidential source said.

Trump's reversal of decades of US policy has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies, who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence in the region.

Friday had been declared a "day of rage" by Palestinian factions protesting against Trump's announcement on Wednesday.

Palestinian protests on Saturday were less intense than on the previous two days.

About 60 Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers across the Gaza-Israel border and the health ministry said at least 10 were wounded by Israeli fire.

In the West Bank, Palestinians set fire to tires and threw stones and fire-bombs at Israeli troops, who used tear gas. The Israeli military said one protester was arrested.

In East Jerusalem about 60 people demonstrated near the walled Old City, where paramilitary border police and officers on horseback tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas. Six demonstrators were arrested and two officers were injured by stones, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday the United States could no longer broker peace talks. Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is leading efforts to restart negotiations, though his bid has shown little progress.

Abbas's diplomatic affairs adviser said the leader would not be meeting Mike Pence, who was due to visit the region later this month.

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