‘US fully supports NATO, but members must pay up’

Munich, Feb 18 (IANS) The US will be unwavering in its support for NATO, said Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday, before reiterating Washington’s insistence that alliance members ramp up their defence contributions.

Pence reaffirmed his country’s support on behalf of President Donald Trump during a speech at the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Germany, Efe news reported.

“The US strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance,” Pence told the audience of world leaders and diplomats.

He continued: “This is President Trump’s promise: we will stand with Europe today and everyday; we are bound together by the same noble ideals – freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law.” Pence added that it was time for NATO members start contributing more.

Since the inauguration of the Trump administration, the US has repeatedly called for NATO countries to invest the target two per cent of their GDP into defence.

According to the Washington and NATO, only four European countries – Estonia, Greece, Poland and Britain – have achieved this level of defence spending.

Pence went on to say the US would ensure that Iran would never be able to obtain a nuclear weapon that would threaten American allies, especially Israel. The US Vice President described Iran as a leader in global terrorism, adding that its actions were destabilizing the Middle East.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her speech at the conference to call on Islamic leaders around the world to make clear the distinction between peaceful Islam and terrorist acts carried out in the name of the religion.

She said although Europe’s ties with Russia remained challenging, cooperation with Moscow was important in the fight against Islamist terrorism.

–IANS

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