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Vice president: U.S. stands beside Baltic states forever

TALLINN - No ally is too small for the United States, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said at a lineup of the NATO battle group at the headquarters of the Estonian Defense Forces on Monday, and confirmed that the U.S. will stand beside the Baltic countries forever.

In a speech made at the lineup, the vice president said that U.S. President Donald Trump sent him to Estonia to thank everyone who have stood up and stepped forward to protect NATO and its joint values. "You are the best of us, heroes all," Pence told the troops.

Pence said that the United States and Europe have been bound together in history by their devotion to freedom. He reaffirmed that the United States protects timeless values which bind the United States and Europe: freedom, democracy and rule of law. He emphasized that even though under [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump, the policy of the United States of America is to place the security and the prosperity of America first, but added that "America First" does not mean "America Alone."

"The United States of America is with you. America stands with the nations and people of the Baltic states and we always will," Pence said. He reaffirmed that the United States have no small allies and confirmed that the United States stands firmly behind NATO's Article 5. He reaffirmed that an attack against on NATO member states is an attack against all others.

Pence said that the U.S. president has made it clear that every NATO member state must contribute 2 percent of GDP to security. The vice president highlighted that Estonia is one of the five member states which meets the criteria and added that Latvia and Lithuania are expected to reach the same level soon.

The vice president also talked about the occupation of the Baltic countries in his speech. "You kept the flame of freedom alive in your hearts," Pence said, noting that the United States did not recognize the occupation of the Baltic countries by the Soviet Union. "It was our honor to stand with you," he said.

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