Egypt's Coptic Pope cancels Pence meeting over Jerusalem move
Egypt's Coptic Church head Pope Tawadros II cancelled a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence in Cairo later this month in protest at Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the church said on Saturday.
US President Donald Trump's decision "did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people," the church's spokesman said in an online statement.
"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".
On Wednesday, the church decried US plans to officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
"This move is contrary to all international conventions on Jerusalem, and will lead to the emergence of significant risks that may negatively affect the stability of the Middle East and the whole world," the church warned.
The latest decision comes a day after Egypt's top Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar, also declined to meet Pence.
Tayeb has warned that US plans to relocate its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem will "open the floodgates of hell to the West".
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 recognise 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
Jerusalem remains at the core of the perennial Israel-Palestine conflict, as Palestinians want Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, a position nearly the entire world rejects saying its status should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.