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The Latest: VP Pence greets troops in Ireland

January 20, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence with his wife Karen Pence, left, waves to anti-abortion supporters and participants of the annual March for Life event, during a reception in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the Middle East (all times local):

2:45 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is greeting US soldiers at Shannon Airport in Ireland hours after the federal government shutdown.

Pence shook hands and posed for photos with soldiers in the airport terminal during a re-fueling stop by Air Force Two.

Pence tells some of the troops, “We’ll get this thing figured out in Washington.”

He is telling the soldiers to “stay focused on your mission.” Pence is traveling to the Middle East with stops in Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

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7:55 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has departed for the Middle East, despite the looming threat of a government shutdown.

Pence took off Friday night on a trip that will take him to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. He’s scheduled to refuel in Ireland after midnight before proceeding to Cairo.

The vice president’s spokeswoman had said Pence’s trip would go forward because it is “integral” to U.S. national security and diplomacy.

President Donald Trump scrapped his plans to travel to Florida Friday as he worked to try to avert a shutdown. Congress must act by midnight or the shutdown will begin.

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11:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence still plans to travel to the Middle East on Friday night, despite the potential for a shutdown of the federal government.

The vice president’s spokeswoman says Pence’s trip to Egypt, Jordan and Israel will proceed as scheduled, and that it’s “integral” to U.S. national security and diplomacy.

President Trump has scrapped plans to travel to his Florida resort amid the threat of a shutdown. Congress must act by midnight or the shutdown will go into effect.

Air Force Two is scheduled to refuel in Ireland after midnight Saturday en route to Cairo.

Pence is set to meet Saturday with Egypt’s president and Sunday with the king of Jordan. He meets Monday and Tuesday with Israeli leaders.

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1:17 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is making his fourth visit to Israel, returning to a region he’s visited “a million times” in his heart.

An evangelical Christian with strong ties to the Holy Land, Pence this time comes packing two key policy decisions in his bags that have long been top priorities for him: designating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and curtailing aid for Palestinians.

Since his days in Congress a decade ago, Pence has played a role in pushing both for the shift in U.S. policy related to the capital and for placing limits on funding for Palestinian causes long criticized by Israel.

Traveling to Israel just as Palestinians have condemned recent decisions by President Donald Trump’s administration.

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