Vice President Mike Pence received an icy response from world leaders at the Munich Security Conference Saturday, as he made clear his aim for the weekend was to promote his President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.
The vice president began his remarks by telling world leaders, “I bring greetings from the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump”—and was met with a long silence before describing Trump’s accomplishments as “extraordinary” and “remarkable.”
In addition to heaping praise on the president, Pence chastised European and Asian leaders for remaining in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal and called on them to join the U.S. in recognizing Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela, weeks after the right-wing opposition leader declared himself the head of the country despite President Nicolas Maduro winning re-election last May.
Pence urged the E.U. to “step forward for freedom” by recognizing Guaido as president.
Millions of Venezuelans in recent days have signed an open letter rejecting the United States’ attempt to intervene and pressure the country and international community to recognize Guaido.
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Slamming European countries for “undermining U.S. sanctions” by staying in the painstakingly-reached Iran nuclear deal, Pence called on world leaders to turn away from Iran while accusing the country of antisemitism.
“The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it,” said Pence.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Pence’s accusation “laughable.”
“Iran has always supported the Jews,” he told Der Spiegel. “We are just against Zionists.”
“Iran’s historic and cultural record of coexistence and respect for divine religions, particularly Judaism, is recorded in reliable historic documents of various nations,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi added in a statement.
“The principle that underlies our foreign policy is the aggressive and occupying nature of the Zionist regime [Israel] … which is a killing machine against the Palestinian people,” he said.
Regarding Iran, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also addressed the conference, defending the decision of Germany and other European nations to stay in the nuclear agreement and observing the Trump administration’s isolation in the debate over the deal.
Merkel has observed “the Europeans on one side and the Americans on the other side,” she said—a dynamic which was illustrated by the conference’s reception of the vice president.
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