Pence to visit Middle East this month following postponement

Pence to visit Middle East this month following postponement

Pence to visit Middle East this month following postponement

A Turkey-based TV station has released audio recordings it said were of an Egyptian intelligence officer asking influential hosts in Egypt to persuade their viewers to accept a U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Saturday report, written by David Kirkpatrick, the Times' global correspondent in London, claimed to have obtained audio recordings of telephone conversations between an Egyptian intelligence official and Egyptian TV talk show hosts.

It also referred to an Egyptian-led resolution at the United Nations last month that rejected US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The report - titled "Tapes Reveal Egyptian Leaders" Tacit Acceptance of Jerusalem Move' - identifies the alleged intelligence officer as Captain Ashraf El-Kholy, who appears in the tapes to contact TV hosts Mofid Fawzy, Azmi Megahed, Saeed Hassaseen and popular actress Yousra.

Two of the calls were with other well-known Egyptian talk show hosts.

Kholi said conflict with Israel was not in Egypt's best interest, and that Palestinians should recognise Ramallah, a West Bank town that houses the Palestinian Authority, as their capital.

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Azad, 30, was arrested in June previous year from Himachal Pradesh as the main accused in the Thakur-Dalit clashes in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur district.

"How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?" he asked in each of the four telephone conversations that were recorded - and whose recordings were somehow obtained by The New York Times.

In response to Trump's move, Egypt publicly said the decision was a violation of global resolutions on the city's status. "Hamas would be reborn once more", Capt. Kholi explained. After that, this thing will become a reality.

"It is inappropriate for The New York Times, a reputable newspaper, to publish such allegations", Egypt's State Information Service said in a statement.

"Hassaseen denied that he received such a phone call on Jerusalem, affirming that he does not know any man by the name of Ashraf al-Kholi", the statement said.

The Times reported that Egyptian intelligence regularly briefs TV hosts on messages leaders want them to communicate to the public, and the recordings showed the officer's conversation partners were all very willing to accommodate the official viewpoint. It also reflected concern regarding the impact of the USA move on the stability of the region and regarding its "extremely negative" impact on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. At the time, White House aides insisted that the move had nothing to do with uproar in the region over the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

This trip, which has been in the works for months, was originally supposed to include meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque and the pope of the Egyptian Coptic Church, who leads the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East. Pence had also planned to visit Bethlehem.

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