Top brass of world politics attend Munich Security Conference

By Michael Fischer and Carsten Hoffmann, dpa

Luminaries from world politics gathered for the start of the annual Munich Security Conference on Friday, as a long list of conflicts casts doubt on the ability of international diplomacy to broker peace.

Around 35 heads of state and government are expected at the three-day event in the southern German city, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Other countries are sending top ministers, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg are also on the list of attendees.

Speaking ahead of the event, Munich Security Conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger said he was “deeply troubled” about the “unforgivable failure” of the international community in war-torn Syria, and also lamented that a Libya peace plan hammered out recently in Berlin had fallen flat.

“We have more crises, more serious crises, more horrific events than one can actually imagine,” he said.

He told dpa that Germany, for one, should be taking on more responsibility in tackling global challenges.

“Given the incredible speed of the changes in world politics, [Germany’s foreign policy] is indeed moving too slowly,” he said. Germany, he said, had shown “too little decisiveness.”

Ahead of the summit’s formal opening in the afternoon, defence ministers from the coalition against Islamic State met to discuss the latest developments, principally military operations in Iraq.

Those attending the meeting included US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who also met separately before the coalition talks.

Both senior officials reaffirmed the need to continue the fight against Islamic State, sources told dpa.

NATO tensions could also simmer at the event, as Macron pushes for Europe to become more independent of its powerful US ally, including by cooperating on a nuclear deterrent.

Meanwhile, with leading US Democrat Nancy Pelosi also travelling to Munich, both the camps supporting and opposing President Donald Trump will be represented at the conference at a time of intense political division in Washington.

Around 3,900 police officers are set to provide security for the event, which will also be accompanied by protests.

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