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Pelosi says US needs NATO 'more than ever'

February 19, 2019

The US speaker of the house has stood strong against Donald Trump at home. As part of a cross-party delegation in Europe, she outlined a markedly different view of America's commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Pelosi walks with Mogherini
Image: picture alliance/AP Images/AP Photo/V. Mayo

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delivered a news conference Tuesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels as part of her visit to Europe with fellow congress members from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

She emphasized the United States' commitment to the trans-Atlantic relationship, in contrast with recent comments from President Donald Trump. 

Pelosi's remarks

  • Pelosi said that both Democrats and Republicans had come to Brussels to reaffirm "our commit to the trans-Atlantic alliance, our commitment to NATO, our respect for the European Union, and our ability and desire for us all to work together to strengthen the alliance and all of our institutions connected there."
  • She alluded to NATO's founding 70 years ago, saying that its goal of establishing global permanent peace was supported and celebrated by the US today.
  • After recalling her first visit to a NATO assembly during the era of a divided Germany, Pelosi named money laundering, cybersecurity and the war against terrorism as issues, among others, that provide "all the more reason to have a reinforced relationship with our NATO allies and support the mobility and infrastructure that the EU is injecting into that security."
  • "Now more than ever, we need NATO as we go forward because the challenges are more important than a bipolar relationship with the Soviet Union," she said, referencing the multilateral order that emerged following the end of the Cold War. 
  • Other congress members of both parties seconded Pelosi, emphasizing the importance of the relationship between the US and Europe, as well as the US commitment to liberal democracy.

Pelosi: US committed to NATO

Sentiments returned

While in Brussels, Pelosi met with high-ranking officials including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU's foreign policy head, Federica Mogherini. 

A statement issued by Mogherini's office said the two had "confirmed the crucial importance of maintaining a strong transatlantic partnership through continued cooperation and dialogue in a wide array of fields, such as trade or climate change and also human rights." They also discussed foreign policy developments in Venezuela, Afghanistan and Ukraine, among others. 

Who is Nancy Pelosi?

Pelosi is the number one congressional Democrat and the most powerful leader of opposition to Trump. She was in Brussels following her visit to the Munich Security Conference on world security. A previously scheduled visit had to be canceled after Trump denied her use of government aircrafts amid the January spat surrounding the annual state of the union address and the government shutdown. 

Nancy Pelosi leans forwards at a table full at EU dignitaries
Pelosi (l in blue) met with top EU leaders including foreign policy head Federica MogheriniImage: picture alliance/AP Photo/V. Mayo

What makes Pelosi's visit significant?

The trans-Atlantic relationship, which includes the NATO military alliance that arose out of WWII, has suffered under the Trump's presidency. His "America First" policies have led to a number of unilateral US actions that have weakened international agreements based on the multinational consensus, such as exiting the Iran nuclear deal and the related threat of US sanctions and  suspending US participation in the anti-nuclear INF Treaty. With particular respect to NATO, Trump has criticized other member nations for failing to meet the alliance's nonbinding call on members to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense.

Nancy looks off into the distance while sitting in Congress as a blurry Trump stands before her
Pelosi has effectively corralled congressional democrats into a unified opposition against TrumpImage: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/C. Kaster

cmb/msh (EFE, AFP, Reuters)

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