Vice President Mike Pence insisted “the president of the United States of America ought to be willing to sit down and explore common interests” with world leaders in “virtually every case,” except for North Korea, during an interview Monday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
Pence pointed to the mass media hysteria surrounding President Donald Trump’s first meeting as president with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the G-20 summit Friday in Hamburg, Germany. With many in the media and in Congress claiming Trump should not have tried to find common interests with Putin amid the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. 2016 elections, Pence argued that the “weak and feckless leadership of the last administration” hamstrung the United States’ ability to “sit shoulder to shoulder with Putin and the Russians and deal with issues.”
“I think the American people saw in the meeting last week a president who is putting America first, a president who is willing to sit nose to nose with the president of Russia,” Pence said. “This was a very significant dialogue between President Putin and President Trump, and it is a beginning.”
“The president of the United States of America ought to be willing to sit down and explore common interests to advance peace and security and prosperity in the world in virtually every case, North Korea being an exception,” Pence continued. “Unless and until North Korea permanently abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, the United States of America will continue to take the approach that President Trump has outlined, and that is, we are going to isolate them more and more economically and diplomatically until they agree to do that.”
“We will not negotiate with them … which is the failed policies of multiple administrations in the past,” Pence added.
Although Pence noted that “the failure of previous ceasefires” in countries that have been “destabilized” by Russian interference makes U.S. skepticism understandable, the vice president insisted that establishing and cultivating serviceable relationships with foreign countries over shared values and interests is key. When Trump sat down for his 2 1/2-hour meeting with Putin on Friday, Pence emphasized that the president “brought up the issue of meddling in American elections first and repeatedly with the Russian president.”
“And remember how many in the media were saying the president was unlikely to even bring it up? The president brought it up, brought it up repeatedly, pressed the issue,” Pence said.
When Trump raised the idea of exploring a joint cybersecurity unit with Russia in a series of tweets Sunday, he received massive backlash from both the Left and the Right. The president walked back on the comments, tweeting Sunday evening, “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t — but a ceasefire can,& did!”
“The president raised the issue of cybersecurity again in the context of that meeting,” Pence commented. “I don’t know the exact reference, but the president made it very clear last night that it probably won’t work out.”
Trump’s second overseas trip as president was an important moment for the administration, as the president continued to demonstrate how an “America First” message can fit with the support of allies abroad.
“I think what the American people saw last week at his speech in Warsaw, Poland, and in G-20 was the president of the United States stepping onto the world stage with strength and conviction and clarity,” Pence said. “The speech in Warsaw delivered a decisive message to our allies in the world that we stand with you, that we are prepared to stand and defend the West.”
“But he also said, as you recall, Laura, a decisive and clear message to Russia that their destabilizing activities in Ukraine must come to an end, that their support for … hostile regimes like Iran and Syria must come to an end,” Pence added. “And he has since made it very clear that the whole issue of sanctions — nothing changes in our sanctions relationship until Russia agrees to real progress in Ukraine and other regions around the world.”
The vice president noted Trump did not cave to pressure from foreign countries to re-enter the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change after announcing the United States’ withdrawal last month. The other 19 countries present at the G-20 summit pledged their support to combating climate change through the Paris Agreement.
“And then to go to the G-20 and not waver, as the international media all talks about American being isolated because the president put America first by pulling out of the disastrous Paris climate accord — he was willing to take the heat,” Pence said. “He did so unflinchingly. He returned home stronger for it.” (go to page 2 to continue reading)[lz_pagination]