Pence pledges U.S. will stand firm with Europe, NATO


MUNICH, Feb 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday sought to assure allies that the Trump administration will back NATO and stand with Europe even as it looks for new ways to cooperate with Russia.

In the first major foreign policy address for the new administration of President Donald Trump, Pence warned allies that they must pay their fair share to support NATO, noting many lack "a clear or credible path" to do so.

He also said Russia must honor the Minsk peace accords and deescalate violence in eastern Ukraine.

"Know this: the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which as you know, President Trump believes can be found," Pence said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

See photos of Pence at the 53rd Munich Security Conference:

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Mike Pence at the Munich Security Conference
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Mike Pence at the Munich Security Conference
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gestures as he speaks at the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MCS) in Munich, Germany, on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Pence sought to allay European concerns about the presidency of Donald Trump, using a speech in Munich to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO and the European project. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for a picture with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence before their meeting at the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
MUNICH, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 18: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence (L) arrive at the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany, on Februrary 18, 2017. The annual event brings together government representatives and security experts from across the globe. (Photo by Andreas Gebert/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
US Vice President Michael Richard Pence (R) and Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani meet for bilateral talks at the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, southern Germany, on February 18, 2017. / AFP / THOMAS KIENZLE (Photo credit should read THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 18: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany, on Februrary 18, 2017. The annual event brings together government representatives and security experts from across the globe. (Photo by Andreas Gebert/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, speaks at the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MCS) in Munich, Germany, on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Pence sought to allay European concerns about the presidency of Donald Trump, using a speech in Munich to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO and the European project. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MUNICH, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 18: US Vice President Mike Pence talks with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, at the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany, on Februrary 18, 2017. The annual event brings together government representatives and security experts from across the globe. (Photo by Andreas Gebert/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence walks with members of his delegation ahead of bilateral talks during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
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(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by John Irish)

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