US Assures EU, Seeks ‘Common Ground with Russia”

20 February, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence says the United States will "continue to hold Russia accountable." But he adds that President Donald Trump wants to find "new common ground with Russia."

Pence's comments came Monday in Brussels, Belgium with European Union Council President Donald Tusk.

"In the wake of Russian efforts to redraw international borders by force, we will continue to support efforts in Poland and the Baltic states through NATO's enhanced forward presence initiative. And with regard to Ukraine, the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable and demand that Russia honor the Minsk agreements beginning by de-escalating the violence in eastern Ukraine."

Vice President Pence did not provide any details about possible closer ties with Russia. He said that Trump believes they can be found.

He said cooperation is needed to have free and fair economies, saying "strengthening our economic vitality will require hard but necessary choices."

US- EU relations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United States Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 18, 2017.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United States Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 18, 2017.

Pence is on his first trip to Europe since taking office. There have been concerns about the new administration's "America First" policy. The purpose of the trip is to let allies know that the U.S. remains a loyal friend.

The vice president said he was speaking for Trump when he expressed U.S. commitment "to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union."

"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."

Donald Tusk of the EU said Monday's meeting was "truly needed." He said that he heard from Pence words that are promising about the future, and explain the Trump administration's views.

Last month in interviews with two European newspapers, Trump said he thought other countries would follow Britain in leaving the EU.

Tusk talked about the importance of the EU. He said "Americans know best what great value it is to be united."

Earlier Monday Pence held talks with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. She said on Twitter the two had an "excellent meeting, good basis for our cooperation." Pence also met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the afternoon to close his European trip.

The vice president expressed support for NATO at the alliance's security conference in Munich last Saturday. His comments came after Trump's campaign statements described NATO as "obsolete," meaning no longer useful.

"The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to our transatlantic alliance," Pence said in his first major foreign policy address for the new administration.

Pence, his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial early Sunday. The camp was the first one established by the Nazi government in 1933 near Munich. It was where an estimated "countless thousands" Jews and other political prisoners died or were killed.

I'm Anne Ball.

Anne Ball adapted this story for Learning English with material from VOA News reports. Hai Do was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit us on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

initiative – n. a plan or program that is intended to solve a problem

de-escalate – v. to slow down or decrease

vitality – n. lively or energetic quality

necessary – adj. so important you must do it or have it, an absolute need

unequivocal – adj. very strong and clear with no doubt

unwavering – adj. continuing in a strong and steady way