US Vice President Mike Pence will seek to reassure skeptical allies in Europe about the US commitment to transatlantic relations and institutions.
Pence will make his first debut on the world stage this weekend with trips to Germany and Belgium with the aim of soothing partners unnerved with President Donald Trump’s statements on Russia and NATO.
The vice president will tell the annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday that Europe is an "indispensable partner" for the United States, a senior White House foreign policy adviser told reporters.
"We are the most secure and most prosperous when both the US and Europe are strong and united," the adviser said.
Pence will also repeat the same message in private meetings with a dozen leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Trump alarmed many allies in Europe during his campaign for the White House by his unorthodox views on the transatlantic relationship. He praised Russian President Vladimir Putin while suggesting that NATO allies should pay up if they wanted the US protection.
In a July interview, Trump said he would decide whether to protect the Baltic nations against Russia based on whether those countries "have fulfilled their obligations to us."
In Munich, Pence will emphasize that Russia and Ukraine should fully implement the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
The vice president will also say that Washington stands firm on economic sanctions imposed on Russia over its alleged role in the Ukraine conflict.
The visit comes amid concerns in Europe about Trump’s relationship with Russia which resurfaced with the ouster of his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over improper contacts with Moscow.
Flynn was forced to step down on Monday following reports that the embattled former general misled Pence about his discussion of sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Pence is also expected to meet with the leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US is involved in two separate wars.
On Sunday, the vice president will travel to Brussels for meetings related to NATO and the European Union. He will hold separate talks Monday with EU Council President Donald Tusk, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.