The Munich Security Conference has started in Munich on Feb. 17 with top world leaders, diplomats and defense officials getting their first opportunity to meet with members of the U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration amid concerns over the new president’s commitment to NATO
and posture toward Russia.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are leading the U.S. delegation to the conference, which will last until Feb. 19.
The annual weekend gathering is known for providing an open and informal platform for allies - and adversaries - to meet in close quarters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, European Council President Donald Tusk and NATO
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are among the group of more than 30 heads of state and government, 80 foreign and defense ministers and other officials expected to attend.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Defense Minister Fikri Işık and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu are expected to attend the conference.
Merkel, whose views on many of the main issues differ significantly from those expressed by Trump, plans to address the conference on Feb. 18.
Others attending the event include Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
On the sidelines, representatives from Germany, Russia, Ukraine
and France are supposed to hold a meeting of the so-called “Normandy group” to talk about the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.