Spotlight: Munich meeting ends with Europe-U.S. clash over Ukraine   2015-02-09 11:12:09

by Xinhua writers Tang Zhiqiang, He Mengshu

MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The just-concluded Munich Security Conference underlined international security cooperation, yet divergences over the Ukraine crisis remain -- not only between the West and Russia, but also inside the Western camp.

The meeting, which closed Sunday, saw Europe and the United States at odds over whether to offer arms to the Ukrainian government to support its battle against independence-seeking insurgents in the eastern part of the country.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told the conference that Washington was ready to offer support to Kiev so that the war-torn country can defend itself.

The U.S. proposal has drawn rebukes from Germany, its long-time European ally.

"I am firmly convinced that this conflict cannot be solved by military means. This is why we have decided to concentrate on a diplomatic solution to this crisis," said Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had just returned from a trip to Russia together with French President Francois Hollande in a bid to broker a cease-fire in Ukraine.

The German leader is due to start a visit to the United States on Monday to continue her diplomatic efforts.

Different interests were behind divergences across the Atlantic, experts say. Tensions between the West and Russia have damaged the Russian economy. But at the same time, Europe is also affected.

Gu Xuewu, director of the Center for Global Studies at Bonn University, has warned that to corner Russia would lead to a split of Europe.

"A collapsed Russia does not meet the interests of Europe," he said.

In the past three days, over 400 diplomats, officials and experts gathered in the southern German city of Munich for the annual forum on global security. They shared views on the current situation and sought answers to challenges.

Participants noted that the past 12 months saw great changes in the security landscape of the world.

"Over the past 12 months, numerous crises have developed into crucial challenges and threats to international peace and security in ways that many decision makers and analysts did not see it coming," said Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, in a report titled "Collapsing Order, Reluctant Guardians."

Given the complexity of challenges and the need for collective efforts, countries must iron out their differences and work together, officials say.

"A globalized world no longer has any geographical limits. No nation, whatever its size, could successfully and permanently resolve conflicts on its own," said German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

In a panel discussion on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius highlighted the importance of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

At the opening of the conference, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi called for fostering a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.

"Countries need to foster a new vision of addressing security challenges through cooperation so as to promote peace and security through cooperation," Yang said.

"A single line of silk does not make a thread and a single tree does not make a forest," he said, "No country, however powerful, can handle today's complex security challenges on its own."


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Editor: Shen Qing
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