U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has accepted an invitation to attend the Munich Security Conference later this month.
Pence met with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Washington on February 2 and tweeted afterwards, "In meeting w/ Minister Gabriel, I told him I'll attend Munich Security Conference, where I'll share our views on Transatlantic relationship."
The White House also said Pence's first foreign visit will be to Brussels and Munich later this month. It issued a statement after Pence's meeting with Gabriel saying the vice president "will engage with European allies and partners about how to deepen and strengthen the trans-Atlantic alliance."
Pence and Gabriel agreed that NATO remains the bulwark of Europe's defense and that all NATO members should contribute "their fair share to our collective security," the White House statement said.
"They also underscored that NATO must adapt to confront threats to our countries such as violent extremism and terrorism," it said.
Munich Security Conference organizers on February 3 confirmed Pence will attend the conference in southern Germany, which will take place February 17-19.
The conference takes place against a backdrop of uncertainty about transatlantic relations after U.S. President Donald Trump said he viewed NATO as obsolete and criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel's policies.
However, European visitors to Washington so far have received strong reassurances the United States remains committed to NATO.
British Prime Minister Theresa May during last week's visit got a "guarantee that [Trump] was 100 percent supportive of NATO," British officials said.
Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters