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Vice President Pence Bids To Reassure EU, NATO Leaders On U.S. Commitment

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (file photo)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (file photo)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will meet European Union and NATO leaders on February 20 as he wraps up a European trip intended to reassure allies on U.S. commitment to the continent.

Pence will hold meetings with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Pence arrived in Brussels late on February 19 after attending the Munich Security Conference and making a side trip to the Nazi-era concentration camp of Dachau on the outskirts of the city.

Pence sought to reassure European leaders and defense experts in Munich on President Donald Trump’s support.

"The United States is and will always be your greatest ally," he said.

"President Trump and our people are truly devoted to our transatlantic union."

Trump has raised concerns among allies with his criticism of NATO, once calling it "obsolete," along with his support for Britain's decision to leave the EU, and his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who met Pence in Munich along with other Baltic leaders, said she was reassured by comments by Pence and U.S. defense chief Jim Mattis.

"I put my trust in them, so I am definitely reassured," Kaljulaid said.

Still, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was "struck" that Pence never mentioned the EU during his Munich talks.

EU foreign policy Mogherini has said Pence's visit is "a very important political sign."

However, she also suggested EU-U.S. ties may become more pragmatic and less automatic than in past decades.

In Washington recently, Mogherini warned the Trump administration not to "interfere" in European politics amid concerns it could support the breakup of the European Union.

Tusk and Juncker have also expressed concerns about Trump.

Juncker said after Trump won the election that he feared the new president will implement everything he said he would during a "campaign that I found absolutely disgusting."

Several groups in Brussels plan to hold demonstrations against Trump's policies, AFP reports.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and The Washington Post

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