Monday, February 20, 2017  

Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
Pence: US Will Hold Russia Accountable 02/18 09:09

   U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sought Saturday to calm jittery partners by 
declaring that the United States, under President Donald Trump, would "hold 
Russia accountable" and maintain steadfast support for NATO, the post-World War 
II military alliance Trump once dismissed as "obsolete."

   MUNICH (AP) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sought Saturday to calm 
jittery partners by declaring that the United States, under President Donald 
Trump, would "hold Russia accountable" and maintain steadfast support for NATO, 
the post-World War II military alliance Trump once dismissed as "obsolete."

   In his overseas debut as vice president, Pence told foreign diplomats and 
security officials attending the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. would 
be "unwavering" in its commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance and Trump 
would "stand with Europe." He pointed to their shared "noble ideals -- freedom, 
democracy, justice and the rule of law."

   Addressing violence in Ukraine, Pence said the U.S. would demand that Russia 
honor a 2015 peace deal agreed upon in Minsk, Belarus, to end violence in 
eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists. He did 
not mention findings by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in 
last year's presidential election to help Trump win the White House.

   "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.

   Pence's address and a series of one-on-one meetings with world leaders along 
the sidelines here sought to calm nervous European allies who remain concerned 
about Russian aggression, including its annexation of Crimea. Many have been 
alarmed by Trump's positive statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin. 
Pence's speech aimed to reassure international partners who worry that Trump 
may pursue isolationist tendencies.

   After his speech, Pence met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called 
for the maintenance of international alliances and told the audience, with 
Pence seated nearby, that NATO is "in the American interest."

   Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, told the conference after Pence's 
speech that Moscow wanted "pragmatic relations" with the U.S. He said he hoped 
that "responsible leaders" would choose to create a "just world order, if you 
want you can call it a post-West world order."

   European countries along Russia's border are rattled by the prospect of 
deeper U.S.-Russia ties after Trump suggested sanctions -- contrary to the 
opinions of Merkel and other world leaders -- imposed after Russia's annexation 
of Crimea could be eased in exchange for a nuclear weapons deal. The president 
referred to NATO as "obsolete" in an interview before his inauguration, but has 
since tempered his language and has stressed the importance of the alliance 
during telephone conversations with foreign leaders.

   But mindful that the new U.S. president often lashes out on Twitter, some 
attendees remained skeptical that the speech represented Trump's thinking and 
said his foreign policy moves would be closely watched.

   "We are waiting for actions," said Polish President Andrzej Duda. "We only 
know what the media has reported and the statements that we've got. Now we are 
waiting for actions of the new government of Donald Trump."

   Wrote U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., on Twitter: "Looks like we have 2 
governments. @VP just gave speech about shared values btwn US and Europe as 
@POTUS openly wages war on those values."

   Michael Chertoff, a former Homeland Security secretary under U.S. President 
George W. Bush, noted that Pence's comments about NATO and Europe echoed 
assurances given by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. "They've all been consistent 
about the fact that there is a strong, deep and enduring commitment to Europe 
and to NATO and I think that message has been received," Chertoff said.

   In his remarks, Pence also reinforced the Trump administration's message 
that NATO members must spend more on defense.

   NATO's 28-member countries committed in 2014 to spending 2 percent of their 
gross domestic product on defense within a decade. But only the U.S. and four 
other members of the post-World War II military coalition are meeting the 
standard, Pence said.

   Failure to meet the commitment, he said, "erodes the very foundation of our 

   "Let me be clear on this point: The president of the United States expects 
our allies to keep their word, to fulfill this commitment and, for most, that 
means the time has come to do more," Pence said.

   In a day of meetings and photo ops, Pence was sitting down with the leaders 
of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and separately with 
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko -- countries dealing with the threat of 
Russian incursion. The vice president also scheduled a meeting with Turkish 
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

   The former Indiana governor's stature within the administration was also 
under scrutiny after the recent dismissal of Trump's national security adviser, 
retired Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn was forced to resign Monday following reports 
he misled Pence about contacts with a Russian diplomat. The vice president 
learned that he had been misled through media accounts about two weeks after 
the president was informed.

   Pence also met with the leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. 
remains embroiled in two separate wars. Trump has made clear his intention to 
defeat the Islamic State group. But he also said the U.S. may get a second 
chance to take Iraqi oil as compensation for its efforts in the war-torn 
country, a notion that has been rebuffed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider 

   Trump's immigration and refugee ban has ruffled feathers with a number of 
Muslim-majority countries affected by the order, which is currently tied up in 
court, including Iraq -- a close ally in the fight against IS. Trump has 
promised to issue a revised order, possibly as soon as next week.


Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN