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Munich security conference: fresh focus on Afghanistan, nuclear weapons

The host of the Munich security conference, which opens today, says Europe must step up and help its main ally, the US, and tackle pressing global security needs like Afghanistan and Iran.

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A police officer checks cars near the hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich on Friday, ahead of the annual Munich Security conference.

Christof Stache/AP

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After a year of uncertainty, “there are no more excuses” for Europe not to put its shoulder to the wheel; help its main ally, the US; and tackle pressing global security needs like Afghanistan and Iran, according to Wolfgang Ischinger, host of a prestigious annual security conference opening here today.

The “no excuses” theme comes amid hand-wringing and remonstration about European “relevance.” Following a White House decision that President Barack Obama will not attend an EU-US summit this spring in Madrid, the EU called off the whole summit. The White House cited scheduling problems.

Last year’s Munich conference saw the first rollout of American foreign policy in the new administration, including the famed "reset" on Russia and an emphasis on cooperation. But one year later, the White House is reportedly underwhelmed at what it considered mostly symbolic efforts by its chief ally on a range of difficult and costly issues it inherited. This year, Mr. Obama is represented by National Security Adviser James Jones and Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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