In Brussels, Pence tries soothing anxious leaders with pro-EU message

He said Mr. Trump directed him to come to Munich and Brussels to "make it very clear" that the new administration is "expressing strong support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, even as we challenge North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and challenge our allies to evolve to the new and widening challenge and further meet their responsibilities in this ever-changing, ever-complicated world of threats".

Pence's comments came as he completed a multi-day security-focused trip to Europe, where he met with key United States allies in Munich, Germany, and in Brussels.

Pence's remarks came as he assured nervous European leaders Monday that the Trump administration is committed to "cooperation and partnership" with the European Union, trying to quiet fears that the White House wants to break up the 28-nation bloc.

The US vice-president, Mike Pence, has attempted to mend fences with European leaders by pledging support for the EU, following hostile comments from Donald Trump and his supporters.

But he voiced optimism, after hearing what he described as Pence's support for an global order governed by law, not force, security cooperation and the integrity of the EU.

He told Mr Pence: "We are counting, as always in the past, on the United States' wholehearted and unequivocal - let me repeat, unequivocal - support for the idea of a united Europe".

Tusk said Monday's meeting was "truly needed", and that he heard from Pence words that are promising about the future and explain the Trump administration's approach.

"Everything Pence said was right, but he only said the bare minimum and we shouldn't be giving ourselves medals for saying the bare minimum", the USA delegation member said. Trump welcomed Brexit and has said that more countries will leave the European Union, which he recently described as "basically a vehicle for Germany".

"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", he said.

Pence said he was disappointed that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn misled him about his conversation with the Russian ambassador to the US.

Prior to the meeting, Juncker told the gathered press that the USA needs a strong European Union and that "now is not the time for the European Union to divide itself".

He was speaking at the Munich Security Conference, which was earlier opened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Others said that Pence offered no real policies that would give Europeans concrete reason to feel reassured about the Trump administration.

He said that defense of a world order "based on the rules of global law" was in the West's interest and that it could "only be enforced through a common, mutually supportive and decisive policy of the whole of the Western community".

Pence also scheduled meetings Saturday with the leaders of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - countries dealing with the threat of Russian incursion.

  • Larry Hoffman