47th Munich Security Conference kicks off
World leaders and diplomats gathered here Friday for a three-day brainstorm on major global security issues at the 47th Munich Security Conference (MSC).
The annual meeting, known as the "Davos of security policy", will discuss new and traditional challenges facing world security, such as the financial crisis, cyber war, transatlantic security, NATO-Russia relations, non-proliferation of mass destruction arms, Afghanistan and the Middle East, Xinhua reported.
Among the 350 political leaders expected to be present are UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, EU president Herman Van Rompuy, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The introductory topic of the conference will be the impact of the financial crisis on world stability, attended by World Bank President Robert Zoellick, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and U.S. investor George Soros.
MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger said he hoped this year's meeting would be a milestone on the way to a new and comprehensive Euro-Atlantic security community.
"I have high hopes for us to be able to show that the course has been set towards cooperation and the use of new opportunities so that we may design a coherent and even more comprehensive security community based on the results of the Lisbon NATO summit," he said.
His comments echo those of Russian ambassador to Germany Vladimir Grinin, who recently said there was now a unique opportunity to create a common Euro-Atlantic security community.
"We owe this to the generations to come," he said, adding the recent progress was increasing the pressure of this debt.
On Saturday, Clinton and Lavrov will exchange instruments of ratification for the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), bringing the new START treaty between the United States and Russia into force.
A high-level Quartet of Middle East mediators meeting will also be held on Saturday on the sidelines of the MSC, attended by Ban Ki-moon, Clinton, Lavrov and EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Catherine Ashton.
The Quartet will discuss ways to break the current impasse between Israel and the Palestinians and revive bilateral talks. The current crises in Egypt and some other Arabian countries are also expected to be discussed.
The MSC, formerly known as the Munich Conference on Security Policy, was founded in 1962 by German publisher Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin. The annual forum focuses on major thorny issues facing the world today.