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Pence emerges as influential point man in domestic, global issues

Published Mon, Feb 20, 2017 · 09:50 PM
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MIKE Pence finished up his first international trip as US vice-president with meetings on Monday in Brussels with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. During the multi-day visit, Mr Pence promised "unwavering US support" for Nato, and that Russia would be "held accountable" for its actions, reassuring many allies in the region and beyond.

While Mr Pence had tough rhetoric on the need for greater Nato burden-sharing, the substance of his speeches and talks was mainstream Atlanticist, and much removed from President Donald Trump's sometimes carping criticisms of the EU and Nato. Europeans and other allies will now hope that Mr Pence assumes real influence as vice-president, and that he and other officials such as Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have a disproportionate say on US international policy vis-a-vis the president.

Mr Pence's high-profile European trip, alongside his recent role in the ousting last week of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, indicates that the vice-president wants to assume a significant role not just in US domestic policy, but also the country's international relations. In so doing, Mr Pence would follow a pattern in the last quarter of a century whereby the last three incumbents of his job - Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, and Al Gore - all enjoyed sizeable influence in US foreign policy.

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