U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pledged Saturday that the U.S. would continue to support Egypt in its battle against terrorism.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with you," Pence said in front of reporters after meetings in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to discuss terrorism and security issues.
Egypt is grappling with serious security problems, including attacks by Islamic State militants in the North Sinai area. El-Sissi said the two men discussed ways to rid the country of the "disease and cancer" of terrorism.
Pence's visit to Egypt was the first stop on a four-day Middle Eastern tour that will include visits to Jordan and Israel. It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. official to the region since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.
Pence, a conservative Christian, helped push for the recognition of Jerusalem, a decision that was well-received by evangelical Christians in the U.S. who hold Israel dear. He and el-Sissi did not discuss the issue during their remarks before reporters.
The trip was originally planned for December but was delayed because of Pence's involvement in the year-end tax overhaul negotiations and the aftermath of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to meet with him in Bethlehem.
Abbas has denounced U.S. President Donald Trump's decision late last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which prompted Palestinians to reject the U.S. as broker for peace in the region. The decision sparked deadly protests in Palestinian territories that have since subsided, and it also drew condemnation from world leaders. Trump's announcement was followed by a so-called day of rage, with demonstrations against Trump's decision spanning the globe.
After the meetings and dinner with el-Sissi in Cairo, Pence was to fly to Amman, Jordan, where he will rest overnight before meeting Sunday with King Abdullah and Queen Rania. Pence then flies Sunday afternoon to Israel.
Pence is not expected to meet with Palestinian leaders.