Mike Pence promised NATO allies Saturday that they had the "unwavering" support of the US, while also making it clear that the administration considers most of them to be freeloaders. The vice president, speaking to European leaders at the Munich Security Conference, said European countries are failing to "pay their fair share" on defense, the BBC reports. Pence said only four other NATO countries—the UK, Greece, Estonia, and Poland—met a commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. "The time has come to do more," Pence said, echoing President Trump's campaign rhetoric. Pence said the US plans to boost military spending and will "hold Russia accountable" for its actions in Ukraine.
"Peace only comes through strength," Pence said, per the Wall Street Journal. "President Trump believes we must be strong in our military might." German Chancellor Angela Merkel also addressed the conference and said Germany will increase its spending to meet NATO's target, but it won't be rushed into it, the Guardian reports. She added that it would be a mistake to believe that defense spending is the only way to boost security. "Security is ensured just as much by increasing one’s development spending," she said. Merkel said the US was a valuable partner in the fight against terrorism, along with Islamic nations who can show "that a misguided Islam, rather than Islam itself, is the cause of terrorism."