Pence and Merkel See Things Very Differently

Especially about the Iran nuclear deal
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2019 12:10 PM CST
Pence, Merkel Cross Swords
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes United States Vice President Mike Pence, left, for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Angela Merkel got a standing ovation; Mike Pence, polite applause. Now the media is hashing out the starkly different policy prescriptions they presented Saturday at a Munich security conference. Facing an audience peppered with influential figures—like a senior Chinese official, Russia's foreign minister, and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump—the German chancellor resisted US demands that Europe ditch the Iran nuclear deal, saying it's easier to influence Iran on other issues by keeping a hand in, per the New York Times. She also criticized President Trump's move to abandon the Intermediate Range Missile Treaty with Russia and pull US troops out of Syria. "Is that not also strengthening the possibilities for Iran and Russia to exert influence there?" she asked.

When Pence spoke, another vision emerged: "The time has come for the Europeans to leave the Iranian nuclear deal," he said. "The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust, and it seeks the means to achieve it." He also criticized Germany for accepting the Nordstream 2 pipeline that would deliver Russia's gas to Germans. "We can't ensure the defense of the West if our allies are dependent on the East," he said. The Merkel-Pence divide highlighted other points of conflict, like the new European company INSTEX designed to keep economic ties with Iran, and the notion that German cars are a "national security threat" to America. See more about their speeches—and people's reactions—at the Wall Street Journal,, and the Washington Post. (Read more Iran nuclear deal stories.)

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