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US VP Mike Pence retreats from Trump's EU, NATO comments


brussels bureau

US VP Mike Pence retreats from Trump's EU, NATO comments

US Vice President Mike Pence pledged support for the EU and NATO on Monday, distancing himself from comments made by President Donald Trump.

President Trump referred to the NATO alliance as “obsolete” on the campaign trail and backed Brexit, marking a reversal of decades of US policy.

But Pence sought to ease European concerns after a weekend spent at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“It is my privilege on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union,” he said.

“Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values and above all the same purpose, to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and to those objectives we will remain committed.”

The vice-president, a former governor of Indiana, also held talks with European Council president Donald Tusk and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Washington has for years urged European allies to spend more on defence, but the criticism has sharpened under the former reality TV star’s leadership.

Trump’s first trip to Europe is widely expected to be to a G7 summit in Italy later this year.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to gain leverage with her EU allies by forging a close relationship with the US president.

Other leaders have been more critical; French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently slammed a travel ban on citizens from seven largely Muslim countries.

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