The annual Security Conference has got underway amid tight security in the southern German city of Munich.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder himself is unable to attend because of ‘flu, but a score of world leaders have turned up including US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and New York Senator Hilary Clinton.
Germany, which was opposed to the US-led war on Iraq, started by urging Washington to give full backing to European diplomacy on the Iranian issue:
“The fight against international terrorism cannot be reduced to political and military measures,” said Defense Minister Peter Struck.
Iran temporarily suspended uranium enrichment in November as a goodwill gesture towards the EU and Washington, which has accused it of covertly pursuing a nuclear programme.
Rumsfeld played down any divergence on Iran, stressing the need for nations to work together to defeat radical Islamists and their “totalitarian aims”. But Washington has also made clear it will not rule out military action as a last resort. Outside the venue, hundreds of pacifists gathered last night ahead of the summit. Four were arrested.
Thousands more are expected for demonstrations today.