As US President Barak Obama begins his second term his number two Joe Biden has been in Germany to reaffirm US-European relations.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, a key foreign policy forum, Biden said that “Europe is the cornerstone of US engagement with the rest of the world.”
“Maintaining our capabilities is what enables us to advance our common global agenda. That’s just one reason why a strong and capable Europe is profoundly in America’s interest and, I might add, in the world’s interest,” said the vice president.
Iran, Mali and the civil war in Syria represent the current challenges facing Europe and the US.
US contributions to NATO are vital and Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Europe to play a greater role in the organisation: “I would like to see us moving towards the day when no single ally provides more than 50% of certain critical capabilities. This will require European allies to do more. And it shows why initiatives by European allies are so vital. Because a strong European contribution to NATO’s capabilities will sustain a strong US commitment to NATO,”
Our correspondent in Munich is James Franey:
“Washington’s main concern is that their European allies risk losing global influence if defence spending is cut any further, especially as China appears set on becoming a military superpower, but Biden’s warning is unlikely to change policy in Europe anytime soon. British Prime Minster David Cameron refused to rule out further defence cuts if he is re-elected in 2015.”