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Munich Security Conference: NATO secretary general defends transatlantic ties


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg touted US-EU relations in his address at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. 

“Any attempt to distance Europe from North America not only weakens the transatlantic bond, but it also risks dividing Europe,” he said. “I don’t believe in Europe alone. I believe in Europe and America together.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke afterwards and defended against German criticism that the US had retreated from the world stage.

Leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer were also set to confront global issues at the conference.

Panels include “a discussion with Iran,” and “Keeping it Pacific: Managing Security Relations in Asia.”

Afghanistan deal

Speaking on ongoing negotiations to facilitate a reduction in violence in Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said that peace must primarily be a result of efforts from within Afghanistan. 

“The only lasting solution to the crisis in Afghanistan is an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process,” he said in response to questions from DW’s Terri Schulz.

“We will only reduce our presence if we see the Taliban is really willing and able to deliver,” he said. 

Read more: What can we expect from this year’s Munich Security Conference?

China-Vatican progress

On the sidelines of the conference, Chinese and Vatican foreign ministers met for the first time on Friday. The talks between China’s Wang Yi and Archbishop Paul Gallagher came amid improving relations between the two states with no diplomatic ties, following an agreement on the appointment of bishops in 2018.

“Today is the first meeting between the Chinese and Vatican foreign ministers,” said Wang, according to the state-run People’s Daily. The two also discussed China’s efforts to contain the new coronavirus epidemic, which was also on Saturday’s agenda for discussion.

The Vatican issued a statement saying that the talks were “cordial” and that contact between the two sides had seen “positive developments.”

Wang and Gallagher also touted a willingness to continue “the institutional dialogue at the bilateral level to promote the life of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people.

lc/aw (AFP, dpa)     


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