Pence pledges US will stand firm with Europe, NATO

US Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on Feb 18.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sought on Feb. 18 to assure Europe that the United States will back NATO even as it looks for new ways to cooperate with Russia at the Munich Security Conference, but was greeted by muted applause by European allies unnerved by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In Pence's first major foreign policy address for the new Trump administration, the vice president told European leaders and ministers that he spoke for Trump when he promised an "unwavering" commitment to the NATO military alliance.

Trump's contradictory remarks on the value of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), skepticism of the 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions and an apparent disregard for the future of the European Union have left Europe fearful for the seven-decade-old U.S. guardianship of the West. 

Pence, citing a trip to Cold War-era West Berlin in his youth, said the new U.S. government would uphold the post-World War Two order.

"This is President Trump's promise: we will stand with Europe today and every day, because we are bound together by the same noble ideals - freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law," Pence told the Munich Security Conference.

While the audience listened intently, Pence received little applause beyond the warm reception he received when he declared his support for NATO. 

Pence also said Russia must honor the Minsk peace accords and deescalate violence 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. 

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Pence warned allies...

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