En Route to Israel, Mike Pence Visits U.S. Military Base Near Syria Border

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen visiting a U.S. military base near the Jordan-Syria border ahead of his arrival in Israel, January 21, 2018.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen visiting a U.S. military base near the Jordan-Syria border ahead of his arrival in Israel, January 21, 2018.Credit: Twitter Screenshot / @jeffmason1

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made an unscheduled visit to a U.S. military base near the Jordan-Syria border on Sunday, according to pool reporters accompanying him.

Pence's visit comes hours before he is slated to arrive in Israel.

Pence delivers remarks to troops in Jordan

The visit to the military base took place as Turkish ground forces pushed into northern Syria’s Afrin province, after Turkey launched artillery and airstrikes on a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.

The Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia, supported by the United States but seen as a terrorist organization by Turkey, said it had repulsed the Turkish forces and their allies after fierce clashes. It marked the second day of fighting after Ankara opened a new front in the nearly seven-year-old Syrian war. 

"President Trump has your back," Pence told the troops. He said that a minority in the senate is playing politics with military pay. "We're going to demand that they reopen the government," Pence said. "In fact, we're not going to reopen negotiations on illegal immigration until they reopen the government and give you, our soldiers and your families, the benefits and wages you've earned." 

"By its actions and by its ideology ISIS has shown to be the enemy of America And because of your courage and valor and professionalism we are driving the evil of ISIS from the face of the earth," Pence told the troops.

Earlier in the day, Jordan's King Abdullah voiced concern over a decision by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, insisting that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In remarks during talks with Pence in Amman, the king said the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a two-state one.

"The U.S. decision on Jerusalem ...does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," the monarch told Pence at the start of the talks in the royal palace.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Pence preceding his arrival on Sunday in a cabinet meeting, saying "there is no substitute for U.S. leadership" in promoting peace and security in the Middle East.

"Tonight a great friend of the State of Israel will arrive...a true friend," said Netanyahu of the U.S. vice president.

Netanyahu continued, saying that the two will speak about Iranian nuclear program and will discuss security and peace in the region.

"I view it as a disgrace that members of Knesset intend to boycott this important visit," said Netanyahu, saying that they plan on interrupting him, and that all should pay him "the great respect that he is due."

Reuters contributed to this story

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