Spotlight: Things to watch at Munich Security Conference 2020

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BERLIN, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) — The 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) is scheduled to kick off in the southern German city of Munich on Friday and run through Sunday.

The annual conference, known as the “Davos” of global security and political events, has been an important forum for top officials to discuss major issues facing the world since its inception in 1963.

The theme this year is “Westlessness,” the loss of the common standing of what it means to be part of the West, according to a security report published on Monday.

Here are some focal points worth watching at the conference:

Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be a major topic at the 56th MSC.

Scheduled to start operation in 2020, the 1,230-kilometer-long pipeline could deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to Europe per year.

The United States has said the pipeline will make the European continent too reliant on Russia, but Germany “firmly rejects” the U.S. legislation imposing sanctions on companies laying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to lead a delegation to further press its European allies on the issue.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also expected to comment on the pipeline project and other topics, including Russia’s interactions with the United States in arms control, Ukraine and the Middle East.

After a U.S. strike under President Donald Trump’s orders killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, the international community fears an uncontrolled conflict between the United States and Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is seen as a frequenter in the MSC and often makes vital speeches.

His statement will probably be even more attention-grabbing this year against the backdrop of U.S.-Iran tensions, with Zarif’s U.S. counterpart Pompeo expected to voice his views at the forum.

The confrontations between different warring factions in Libya will also be one of the major topics, according to Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the MSC.

Countries concerned with the North African country’s long-running conflict, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France and Italy, will discuss ways to end it.

Just three weeks ago also in Germany, the related countries agreed to stop military support to the warring parties while a cease-fire lasts, a step seen by analysts as a glimmer of hope to give Libyans space for a political reconciliation.

The war, however, has only become more intractable, as the factions accused each other of violating a truce and there was no mechanism capable of making embargo violations costly to perpetrators.

A panel discussion on global health security will be held at this year’s MSC.

Regarding the outbreak of the novel coronavirus mostly in China but also in some other countries, Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is set to address the panel.

China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will also deliver a keynote speech, talking about the Chinese government and people’s concerted efforts and progress in fighting the epidemic and about advancing international cooperation against it.

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