53rd Munich Security Conference opens
The 53rd Munich Security Conference started in Germany.
Among the topics up for discussion at the Munich conference 2017 will be the future of transatlantic relations after electing Donald Trump as US President, the EU cooperation in the field of security and defense, relations with Russia, as well as the crisis in Syria and the situation in East Asia.
The conference is expected to be attended by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the President of Poland Andrzej Duda, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani.
More than 30 presidents and prime ministers, more than 80 Defense and Foreign ministers from around the world will arrive in Germany, as well as Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates and singer and activist Bono.
The Russian delegation will be led by the Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Several members of the US cabinet, including Vice President Mike Pence and the Secretary of Defense and Homeland Security, General James Mattis have confirmed their participation. The Congressional Delegation is led by Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse and includes more than a dozen members.
The conference, chaired by a German human rights activist and former ambassador to the US and the UK, Wolfgang Ischinger, is being held at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen opened the ceremony.
Von der Leyen stressed the importance of strengthening EU defense capabilities and said now is the right time to take "ambitious steps," something that she said isn't just in Europe's interests.
"Our American friends know well that their tone on Europe and NATO has a direct influence on the cohesion of our continent," she said. "A stable European Union is just as much in the American interest as a united NATO."
Ursula von der Leyen was joined at the opening session by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who declared that "when it comes to security, no one goes their own way in this world alone.
"We all see our community of nations under threat on multiple fronts as the arc of instability builds on NATO's periphery and beyond," Mattis added, noted that security is always best when provided by a team.