Mike Pence arrives in Estonia, kicking off Eastern Europe trip

Posted on: July 30th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Raigo Pajula/Getty Images(TALLINN, Estonia) — Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence arrived in Estonia Sunday afternoon, kicking off a three-country visit of Eastern Europe.

The Pences, who left from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland Saturday night, were greeted at the Tallinn airport by U.S. Ambassador to Estonia James Melville and Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser. The group shook hands and spoke briefly before the vice president’s motorcade headed to the Pences’ hotel.

Pence tweeted upon his arrival.

On behalf of @POTUS, arrived in Tallinn, Estonia with @SecondLady to meet w/ leaders of Baltic States on security & prosperity #VPinEurope pic.twitter.com/YmKsiBQyvK

— Vice President Pence (@VP) July 30, 2017

.@VP Pence & @SecondLady#Estonia 🇪🇪 welcomes you for a 2-day visit to #Tallinn #VPinEurope pic.twitter.com/vo9XYETXlZ

— USEmbassyTallinn (@USEmbTallinn) July 30, 2017

Pence also tweeted Saturday night, along with a photo of himself boarding Air Force Two.

On my way to Estonia, Georgia and Montenegro to meet with leaders in the region on behalf of @POTUS. Keep up with #VPinEurope. pic.twitter.com/6gJTy3WRv6

— Vice President Pence (@VP) July 30, 2017

In explaining the purpose of the trip, a senior Trump administration official told reporters last week, “This builds upon the administration’s engagement. The secretary of defense had been there recently, and it builds upon the vice president’s trip when we addressed some of these leaders at the Munich Security Conference when he met with the three Baltic presidents then. And he has since hosted the prime minister of Georgia here at the White House, as did the president. And then on Montenegro’s accession into NATO, we also hosted leadership here in the White House.”

The office of Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said in a press release Saturday that Ratas and Pence will meet at 5:30 p.m. local time to “discuss cooperation in defense, digital issues and cyberdefense, as well as cooperation between the U.S. and the EU in connection with the Estonia presidency of the Council of the European Union.”

Ratas said in a statement, “The contribution of the U.S. to the security of the Baltic states and also the whole of Europe is vital, and I certainly wish to thank the vice president for that. Besides that, we plan to speak about the Estonian digital solutions that are of interest to the U.S. and developing cooperation in cyberdefense at our meeting. Another important topic that will be on the table is the cooperation between the EU and the U.S.”

Prime Minister Ratas meets with Vice President Pence today https://t.co/z3KEX6KNpE pic.twitter.com/TYx3rtZ2jW

— Estonian Government (@EstonianGovt) July 30, 2017

A senior White House administration official told reporters last week that while in Estonia, Pence will “highlight our strong bilateral ties, including by trade and investment. And, particularly with Estonia, successes in the cyber realm and their current partnership on cyber issues, and their leading not only in that region, but globally.”

On Thursday, Karen Pence expressed her enthusiasm for the trip on Twitter.

Looking forward to our visit to Eastern Europe where I will highlight my initiative, art therapy. What an honor! pic.twitter.com/1nwZlk2IKe

— Karen Pence (@SecondLady) July 27, 2017

According to the second lady’s office, she will tour a medical center in Tallinn and participate in a roundtable discussion with art therapists.

In Georgia, the vice president will “highlight our commitment to the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership” and “our strong support” for “Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to the senior administration official. The officials said Pence will also note “its internationally recognized borders and our support for Georgia and their Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”

While in Georgia, Karen Pence will visit with patients of an art therapy program in Tbilisi.

On Wednesday, Pence will attend the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica, Montenegro, to highlight the U.S. commitment to the Western Balkans and underscore the importance of good governance, political reforms and rule of law. Also expected to attend are the leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.

In Podgorica, Montenegro, the second lady will tour a honey farm, where she will learn about a local family’s beekeeping business.

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