U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, are scheduled to land in Egypt on Saturday, the first stop of a four-day Middle Eastern tour that will also include visits to Jordan and Israel.
Early Saturday, Air Force Two stopped at Shannon Airport in Ireland for refueling.
Pence greeted U.S. troops inside the airport.
“We’ll get this thing figured out in Washington,” Pence told the service members, in reference to the government shutdown. “You guys stay focused on your mission.”
Earlier, the vice president issued a statement on the shutdown, saying “… rather than solve problems, Democratic leadership preferred a shutdown that has dangerous consequences for our national defense. Their actions tonight — or lack thereof — is (sic) unconscionable.”
In Cairo, Pence will have meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other officials before flying to Amman, Jordan, where he will overnight before meeting with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania. Sunday afternoon he flies to Israel.
Pence is the first senior administration official to visit the Middle East since U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move widely condemned by world leaders.
Trump has also announced that the U.S. will move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
The announcement was followed by a so-called Day of Rage, with demonstrations against Trump’s decision spanning the globe.
Pence is an evangelical Christian. The vice president’s tour of the region is expected to go over well with Evangelicals who hold Israel dear.
Pence is not expected to meet with Palestinian leaders.
He was originally scheduled to go to the region in December, but decided not to after the pushback from Trump’s Jerusalem recognition decision.