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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Munich Security Summit: Mike Pence brings Iran to Europe and urges end of 2015 deal

He also warned that Chinese tech giant Huawei posed a security threat

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. Reuters
US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. Reuters

America took its demand that Europe join the US in confronting Iran to an assembled gathering of the continent's leadership on Saturday as Mike Pence, the vice president, warned Tehran was openly pursuing a “new holocaust”.

Mr Pence painted a dark picture of European allies that were undermining US sanctions targeting the Tehran regime and thus allowing a regime intent on “evil” to withstand Washington’s efforts to contain it.

“Antisemitism is not only wrong, it is evil and must be confronted whenever and wherever it rises. It must be universally condemned,” he said at the Munich Security Conference meeting. “The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and seeks the means by which to achieve it.

“It is time for our European partners to stop undermining the US and stand with the Iranian people... The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal."

In what was a second opportunity to challenge the European security agenda in less than a week, Mr Pence dismissed charges that American leadership had gone missing under President Donald Trump.

Instead, he portrayed a conference last week in Warsaw of 60 nations that was dominated by the challenges posed by Iran as a successful demonstration of US diplomacy.

Speaking to an audience of hundreds of European and global leaders, Mr Pence called for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran to be scrapped. “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” he said.

It was not just on Iran that Mr Pence set out a hard message. Nato countries that were failing to spend enough on defence must come up with a “credible plan” to raise expenditure and by 2024 raise the proportion of the budget spent on procurement to one-fifth of the overall outlay. “We cannot ensure the defence on the west if our partners are dependent on the East,” he said.

With President Trump’s daughter Ivanka looking on from the front row, Mr Pence added that prohibition included the telecommunications networks from China, principally by Huawei.

"The United States has also been very clear with our security partners on the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies," he said. "We must protect our critical telecom infrastructure and America is calling on all our security partners to be vigilant.”

Hitting out at the American demands on Europe over installation of communication from the firm Huawei, Mr Yang called on Americans to show more self-confidence and show more respect to the so-called old world.

In contrast, Yang Jiechi, a Chinese state counsellor, delivered a message of multilateralism. “There is a saying in China that one thread snaps but 10,000 threads woven together can pull a boat,” he said. “I believe the whole world should pull together.”

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, noted tensions in the Euro-Atlantic relationship and, quoting General Charles de Gaulle and Helmut Kohl, called for a new focus on building pan-European cooperation.

Updated: February 16, 2019 04:18 PM

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