Saturday 7 February 2009

Munich International Security Conference: Second Day

Joe Biden addressed the conference today (reported here in German; Tagesschau clip here; BBC report here). There wasn't much - or indeed anything - new about US policy that can be divined from his speech; it was mostly a restatement of Obama's previous announcements: more multilateralism, shift from Iraq to Afghanistan, closure of Guantanamo and the decision of whether or not to give the go-ahead to the anti-missile system in Eastern Europe to be based on the technological feasibility of the system.

More interesting is Angela Merkel's announced willingness to consider "tough sanctions" against Iran if Iran doesn't make any progress in negotiations (here, again in German). This could be a significant hardening of German attitudes to Iran, with which Germany has numerous business interests. However, we'll have to see how Germany defines a lack of progress and tough sanctions.

Jaap de Hoop, NATO General Secretary has again called for closer transatlantic ties, with an America more open to listening to the European states and European states more willing to help in Afghanistan. He also called for a more trusting relationship between NATO and Russia.

BBC news has also uncovered some very important Russian news.

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