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    US Vice President Mike Pence expressed Washington's commitment to cooperation with the European Union and urged the bloc to intensify efforts to counter the threat of radical Islamist terrorism.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – US Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that President Donald Trump had asked him to deliver a message of US commitment to continued cooperation and partnership to the European Union.

    Pence is visiting Brussels and has met on Monday with several high-ranking EU officials.

    "The president did ask me to come here to Brussels, to the home of the European Union and deliver an additional message. So today it is my privilege on behalf of president Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership to the European Union," Pence told reporters.

    The victory of Donald Trump at the US presidential election on November 8 spread concerns amid some European politicians that Washington might reconsider its ties with the European Union.

    "We seek to take measures and we call upon the European community to join with the United States continuing to intensify our efforts to counter the threat of radical Islamic terrorism here on the continent. Now this will require greater coordination and intelligence sharing among the EU member states and between the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO]. Let me assure you, the United States is committed to continuing and expanding our collaboration on collective security of all of our peoples," Pence said.

    "In addition to confronting terrorism together, clearly we must stand strong in defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations in Europe," he added.

    "With regard to Ukraine, the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable and demand that Russia honor the Minsk agreements beginning by deescalating the violence in eastern Ukraine. We urge both sides to abide by the ceasefire that was scheduled to begin today," Pence told reporters.

    The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.

    In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Despite the agreement, the ceasefire regime is regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.

    "At president Trump’s direction, we will also search in new ways for new common ground with Russia which president Trump believes could be found," Pence added.

    Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated establishing a political dialogue with Moscow, particularly in regards to the fight against terrorism, and expressed readiness to build positive relations with Russia. Moscow has long been promoting the idea of fruitful cooperation with Washington.

    After the leaders' phone talks on January 28, the Kremlin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the presidents had noted the importance of respect in relations.

     

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    terrorism, NATO, European Union, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Donald Tusk, Donbass, United States, Ukraine, Russia
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