Pence, facing skeptical Europe, again tries to reassure EU and NATO

 

 

 

Vice President Mike Pence told a rattled Europe on Monday that President Donald Trump fully supported crucial European institutions — despite the president’s perplexing comments and occasional insults — and said he supported the firing of the national security adviser.

 

“The president did ask me to come here to Brussels, to the home of the European Union, and deliver an additional message,” Pence said, standing next to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and a former prime minister of Poland.

 

“So today it’s my privilege on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union,” Pence said.

 

Asked for his response to the resignation of the national security adviser, Michael T. 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.

 

“I was disappointed to learn that the facts that have been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate,” he said.

 

Smiles and handshakes abounded before and after Pence delivered his reassuring words, but Europeans — taken aback by Trump’s occasional fulminations against European institutions that have long been the bedrock of US policy here — were still wary.

 

Thousands of people demonstrated against Trump’s immigration policies across Britain, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the government to reconsider its invitation to the president in light of Trump’s ‘‘cruel’’ migrant ban.

 

In January, Trump called the EU “basically a vehicle for Germany,” language that stunned leaders of the bloc, which has been struggling with economic malaise, migration, and Britain’s intention to withdraw.

 

Days later, Tusk, who represents the union’s 28 national leaders, described Trump’s bombastic and skeptical language as a potential threat to European unity alongside Russian aggression, Chinese assertiveness, and Islamist terrorism.

 

And just moments before Pence held his final news conference of his first overseas trip here, Trump posted on Twitter: “The fake news media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. Not!” (Sweden is a member of the EU, but not of NATO.)

 

On Monday, after meeting with Pence, Tusk said he felt reassured.

 

In a detailed statement, he said he had asked Pence whether the Trump administration was committed to maintaining an international order based on rules and laws; whether Trump was committed to NATO and to “the closest possible trans-Atlantic cooperation”; and whether Europe could count “as always in the past, on the United States’ wholehearted and unequivocal, let me repeat, unequivocal support for the idea of a united Europe.”

 

“In reply to these three matters,” Tusk said, “I heard today from Vice President Pence three times ‘yes’! After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practice what they preach.”

 

​Read more from the source article published in the Boston Globe

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