Israeli president and Palestinian PM to attend Munich security conference
Berlin — Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh are among hundreds of high-ranking officials due to attend the Munich security conference this week, its chair Christoph Heusgen says.
The conference takes place as the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, in which more than 28,000 Palestinians and about 1,430 Israelis have been killed, enters its fifth month with no end in sight.
Shtayyeh is part of the Palestinian Authority based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It was not known if he and Herzog would meet.
Heusgen said the Israel-Hamas war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and conflicts in the Horn of Africa would dominate the conference, which takes place in the German city of Munich from Friday to Sunday and is attended by the world’s defence and security elite. The future of Nato and European defence would also be a big topic, Heusgen said.
Former US president Donald Trump has prompted indignation in Nato and Europe with his suggestion that the US might not protect Nato allies who are not spending enough on defence from a potential Russian invasion.
“We obviously don’t just want to paint a dark picture, but rather we will be seeking for the silver lining on the horizon,” he told a news conference.
Freed Israeli hostages and relatives of hostages of Hamas would also participate in an event on the conference sidelines, Heusgen said,
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres would open the conference. Other attendees included US secretary of state Antony Blinken, US vice-president Kamala Harris, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen and the government chiefs of Lebanon, Qatar and Iraq, he said.
The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) richest democracies would hold a meeting on the sidelines.
The Munich security conference’s annual report underscored a high degree of pessimism in Western nations about their prospects for security and prosperity, Tobias Bunde, its head of policy and analysis, said.
Nearly half of German citizens, for example, believed their country would be less secure and less wealthy in 10 years’ time.
“That is a big contrast to countries like China and India where majorities are significantly more optimistic,” Bunde said. “In many Western societies, the feeling that the wins of globalisation are unfairly distributed and that the current world order cannot fulfil their expectations is spreading.”
This in turn was dampening the desire for international co-operation, for example on issues such as climate change, he said.
About 27% of the 250 people speaking at the 60 events come from the Global South, the highest share to date at the conference.
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