Pence to NATO: You'd better step up your game by Christmas, folks

US Vice-President Mike Pence on Saturday (18 February) led a chorus of reassurance for allies rattled by Donald Trump's policy stance, but European leaders gave the pledges a lukewarm welcome.

Asked for his response to the resignation of the national security adviser, Michael Flynn - whom the administration blamed for misleading Pence about the extent of his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States - Pence looked uncomfortable but said he supported Trump's decision to ask for Flynn's resignation.

While the USA wanted a new relationship with Russian Federation, he said, it expected Russian Federation to honour the 2015 Minsk peace agreement over the Ukraine conflict.

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

"We honor General Flynn's long service to the United States of America and I fully support the president's decision to ask for his resignation", Pence said.

'Too much has happened over the past month in your country and in the European Union. for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be, ' Tusk said.

The large congressional delegation in Munich is also struggling to communicate the Trump administration's intentions to European officials. Sen.

Pence broke with his boss' previous comments on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - the Cold War era interventionist military alliance which Trump has repeatedly slammed as obsolete - saying that the US would be "unwavering" in its commitment to the multi-national alliance, even going so far as to praise recent North Atlantic Treaty Organisation deployments in Poland and several Baltic states in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Tusk, a former Polish premier, said that Europeans "truly needed" the meeting with Pence and that the 28-nation bloc counted on "wholehearted and unequivocal" USA support.

After talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg across town, Pence reiterated the administration's strong support for the alliance, but warned that Trump wants to see "real progress" by the end of the year on boosting defense spending.

The biggest takeaway from the Munich conclave of security leaders - a ritzy conference at the Bayerischer Hof hotel where the world's policy elite gather annually to joust over issues of the day - was that the Kremlin has a new rival in its efforts to unsettle Western alliances. Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU's top bureaucrat, said on the sidelines of the Munich conference: "I don't like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military".

He also said that he and the president support a free and independent press.

But European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker pointed out that the bloc's contribution to worldwide security is not limited to military spending.

Pence was in Brussels to meet with a number of EU leaders, hoping to reassure skeptics that President Trump was committed to keeping the union together post-Brexit.

  • Leroy Wright