Tuesday 27 June 2017

Pence tells Nato: 'Get a plan...or else'

US Vice-President Mike Pence waves next to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels Photo: REUTERS/Virginia Mayo/Pool
US Vice-President Mike Pence waves next to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels Photo: REUTERS/Virginia Mayo/Pool

Ruth Sherlock

Mike Pence, the US vice-president, yesterday warned European members of Nato that the Trump presidency wants "real progress" by the end of the year on boosting defence spending.

Mr Pence, on his first overseas trip in office, left Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, in no doubt as to White House demands.

A demonstrator takes part in a protest against US President Donald Trump outside the Houses of Parliament in London, yesterday Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
A demonstrator takes part in a protest against US President Donald Trump outside the Houses of Parliament in London, yesterday Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

"If you don't yet have a plan - these are my words, not his [Mr Trump's] - get one. It is time for actions, not words," he told a press conference.

Nato leaders agreed in 2014 that members needed to start spending at least 2pc of their gross domestic product on defence by 2024. Only the US, Britain, Poland, Estonia and Greece currently do so.

"The truth is many others, including some of our largest allies, still lack a clear and credible path to meet this minimum goal," Mr Pence said.

Asked what the administration would do if allies failed to meet the spending target, Mr Pence said: "I don't know what the answer is to 'or else', but I know that the patience of the American people will not endure for ever."

Meanwhile, Mr Trump named Herbert Raymond McMaster, a highly respected lieutenant general, as his new national security adviser, calling him a "man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience".

Gen McMaster is known for developing pioneering combat tactics in fighting insurgents following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and challenging the status quo in US military policy.

European leaders responded with cautious optimism to Mr Pence's first visit to Brussels after the vice-president affirmed America's partnership with the European Union. Europe had been rattled by Mr Trump's repeated criticism of the Nato alliance and his apparent delight with Brexit.

The vice-president said he was acting on behalf of Mr Trump when he expressed the "strong commitment of the United States to continued co-operation 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," Mr Pence said.

The comments, which seemed at odds with the direction the Trump administration has taken so far on the EU, were met with a slightly perplexed but cautious optimism.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, quipped: "Reports of the death of the West have been greatly exaggerated.

"I heard words which are promising for the future, words which explain a lot about the new approach in Washington," Mr Tusk said after meeting with Mr Pence.

He warned that European leaders would be watching closely to ensure that both sides "practise what they preach".

"Too many new and sometimes surprising opinions have been voiced over this time about our relations - and our common security - for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be," he said.

Mr Trump has been expansively critical of the EU, and has even appointed an ambassador to the bloc - Ted Malloch - who is openly pro-Brexit.

The president has also built personal connections with Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, and his aides have met with Marine Le Pen, and other leaders of right-wing European political parties who would like to see the fragmentation of the union. Last month, Mr Trump stunned EU leaders when he dismissed the bloc as being "basically a vehicle for Germany".

Telegraph.co.uk

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News