The Latest: Ukraine's Poroshenko renews push for UN troops
Feb. 16, 2018
MUNICH (AP) — The Latest on the Munich Security Conference (all times local):
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is renewing a push to have United Nations peacekeepers deployed in eastern Ukraine, arguing that there is "a unique window of opportunity" to implement a three-year old peace deal.
There have been sharp disagreements between Russia and Ukraine over a possible U.N. mission amid persistent skirmishes between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists. More broadly, much of the 2015 peace deal signed in Minsk, Belarus, has yet to be enacted.
Poroshenko argued at the Munich Security Conference Friday that "there is a chance for Moscow to show the sense of compromise and agree on United Nations peacekeepers throughout the whole occupied territory of Donbass." He said that any such force should be granted a "robust functional mandate."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he supports the European Union expanding its defense capabilities but that it should avoid duplicating the alliance's efforts.
Stoltenberg told the Munich Security Conference on Friday that EU efforts to strengthen defense are "an opportunity to further strengthen the European pillar within NATO and contribute to better burden sharing."
But he also says there are risks involved, and pointed out that after British exit from the EU is complete, some 80 percent of NATO's funding would come from non-EU allies.
He says there is a "risk of weakening the trans-Atlantic bond, the risk of duplicating what NATO is already doing, and the risk of discriminating against non-EU members of the NATO alliance and these risks must be avoided."
The emir of Qatar is declaring a boycott of his country by four Arab nations a "futile" exercise from which it has emerged stronger. He is calling for a new regional security effort in the Middle East.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told the Munich Security Conference on Friday that its detractors' "adventurous policies have undermined regional security."
The emir declared that "it is time for wider regional security in the Middle East. It is time for all nations of the region to forget the past, including us, and agree on basic security principles and rules of governance." He said all regional nations "need to agree on a baseline of coexistence, backed by (a) binding arbitration mechanism."
The diplomatic crisis began June 5 with Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cutting off Doha's land, sea and air routes over its alleged support of extremists and close ties to Iran.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging policymakers "not to miss the opportunity of a peaceful resolution" to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program, saying a military solution would have "catastrophic consequences."
Guterres told the Munich Security Conference on Friday that the world faces the threat of a nuclear conflict for the first time since the end of the Cold War because of events surrounding North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
He said it's necessary to ensure that the U.S. and North Korea can "come together and have a meaningful discussion." He added: "I believe the United States is ready to do so. ... It's absolutely essential to keep the pressure over North Korea and to convince North Korea that it is absolutely vital for them to come to the table."
Germany's defense minister is criticizing U.S. moves to cut spending on the United Nations and arguing that diplomacy and development aid are just as essential as military strength.
Ursula von der Leyen told the Munich Security Conference on Friday: "It is a point of concern to us to see that some of our partners continue to roll back spending on diplomacy, international aid and the United Nations."
Von der Leyen said that "trans-Atlantic burden-sharing cannot consist of a model under which some are responsible for the sharp end of the stick while others deal with humanitarian measures and reconstruction."
She said it must become a "guiding principle on both sides of the Atlantic" that all are responsible for both aspects. She acknowledged that will take "huge efforts" by the Europeans.
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross says the international community should consider "humanitarian exemptions" to economic sanctions against Libya.
Peter Maurer spoke to reporters after a three-day trip to the beleaguered North African country. He said he did not visit any detention centers for migrants in Libya that have made international headlines in recent months over their dismal conditions, but said that such facilities were at the "core" of his meetings with officials including Gen. Khalifa Hifter, the Libyan National Army chief.
He said ICRC is looking to increase its activities in Libya, pointing to the successes of a cash-handout program.
Maurer said Friday at the Munich Security Conference that he had learned about the harmful impact of the sanctions that Libya has faced following the ouster and death of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
The ICRC chief didn't specify, but suggested that those sanctions were having an harmful impact on de-mining activities — which he said are increasingly needed as people return to their homes in some recently stabilized parts of the country and "find that their homes are full of mines and unexploded ordnances."
Dozens of world leaders, top defense officials and diplomats are gathering in southern Germany for an influential security conference amid growing strains between the U.S. and other NATO nations and Russia over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is heading this year's American delegation to the Munich Security Conference. Other participants include British Prime Minister Theresa May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey.
The conference, which runs Friday through Sunday, provides an informal setting where diplomacy is often conducted on the sidelines, and already officials from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany have said they'll meet for talks on the conflict in Ukraine.