Pence Clarifies US Stance On NATO, Russia

REUTERS/Michael Dalder

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Vice President Mike Pence assured European leaders Saturday that U.S. support for NATO remains “unwavering.”

In his first major foreign policy address as vice president at the Munich Security Conference, Pence said the U.S. will “stand with Europe today and every day.” Pence also repeated concerns voiced by President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis regarding European countries “failing to pay their fair share,” which “erodes the foundation of our alliance.” (RELATED: When The NATO Bill Hits The Table, These Are The Countries Who Hesitate To Reach For The Wallet)

“The time has come to do more,” Pence said.

Pence further warned Russia to respect the Minsk Protocol and deescalate the offensive in eastern Ukraine.

“Know this: the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which as you know, President Trump believes can be found,” Pence said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

Mattis sent a clear message to NATO allies Wednesday, saying members need to increase defense spending or risk a more “moderate” American commitment.

“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of western values,” Mattis said. “Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do. Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged EU states to resist the American warning. Juncker said Europe’s spending on development and humanitarian aid should be taken into account. (RELATED: President Urges EU To Resist US Call On NATO Spending)

“It has been the American message for many, many years,” Juncker said at the Munich Security Conference Thursday. “I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this.”

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