US Vice President Mike Pence said the country “remains committed” to the European Union in a visit to Brussels, following President Donald Trump’s vocal criticism of the organisation.
“It is 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 told reporters.
“Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values and above all the same purpose, to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and to those objectives we will remain committed.”
The statement contrasted Trump’s previous comments about the EU, which the president described as “basically a vehicle for Germany”. Trump has also been a vocal Brexit supporter, saying the UK was “so smart in getting out”, and that “others will leave” as well.
Pence also addressed concerns over the new administration’s commitment to NATO defence pact, which Trump recently described as “obsolete”. While the US maintained “unwavering” support for the alliance, Pence said NATO members still had to meet the 2 per cent defence spending target as soon as possible.
“America will do our part, but Europe’s defence requires Europe’s commitment as well as ours,” said Pence. “The president expects real progress by the end of 2017… the patience of the American people will not endure forever.”