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Egypt's Coptic Pope refuses to meet US Vice President over Jerusalem

Sunday December 10, 2017 7:27 PM, OIC-UNA

Pope Tawadros with Al Azhar Head
[Al-Azhar head Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyib (L) with Pope Tawadros II (R) in a file EPA Photo.]

Cairo: Egypt's Coptic Church Head Pope Tawadros II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence later this month in protest at Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the church said on Saturday, according to media reports.

US President Donald Trump's decision "did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people," the Coptic church said in a statement, adding it decided not to receive Pence when he visits Egypt.

"The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church declines to receive American Vice President Mike Pence," it said, adding it would pray for "wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East."

In a separate development, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki said on Saturday Abbas will not meet Pence during his visit to the region and there will be no communication between U.S. and Palestinian officials.

The decision comes a day after Egypt's top Muslim Cleric Ahmed al-Tayyib, the head of Al-Azhar, also declined to meet Pence.

Egyptian Coptic Christians make-up about 10 percent of the country's 93 million people, and are the largest religious minority in the region.

Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked Palestinian protests, sporadic clashes and a call for a new intifada or uprising amid fears of new bloodshed in the region.

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