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Wars in Israel, Ukraine to dominate security summit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is travelling to Bavaria to attend the Munich Security Conference, the annual gathering of world leaders and senior defence and security figures.

The meeting will be dominated by war in the Middle East, and concerns over what a second Trump presidency in the United States might mean for NATO and the transatlantic alliance.

This is the first time a Taoiseach has attended the Munich Security Conference, now in its 60th year.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin attended last year, and he will also be in Munich in the second part of the weekend.

The Taoiseach will join a panel discussion on neutrality hosted by Oxford Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, who chaired a series of public forums on security and defence in Ireland last year, amid some controversy.

A Government statement said Mr Varadkar would focus on how countries like Ireland can play a positive role on the world stage, at a time when the world is less stable and more dangerous.

The Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs will both attend

The Munich Security Conference Report, which kicked off the meeting, depicts a world which has entered a new era marked by zero-sum thinking in which countries seek advantage through protectionism, self interest, and the rejection of mutually beneficial cooperation.

It is expected that a group of large tech companies will present a joint declaration on preventing Artificial Intelligence and so-called deep fakes from undermining democratic elections.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, US Vice President Kamala Harris and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are among other leaders attending the conference.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh are also expected to attend.

“The world has become more dangerous,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General told Reuters on Wednesday.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said officials from European countries that help to fund the occupied Palestinian territories and key Arab and Gulf states would meet on the sidelines of the Munich event to start discussing the future for Israel and the Palestinian people after a potential ceasefire.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also expected to join.

Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Munich ahead of the conference

“There are lots of things we need to start talking about now,” Mr Cameron said in remarks to the House of Lords.

“Whether it’s about this question of how you offer a political horizon to people in the Palestinian territories, or indeed, how we deal with Israel’s very real security concerns.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he would set foot on German soil for the first time to give a keynote speech at the conference, after refraining from doing so as he grew up in a family of Holocaust survivors.

“”I will do everything for Israel’s security, securing our future and returning the hostages,” he said.

Mr Zelensky is expected to plead for more support for Ukraine as the US House of Representatives stalls a multi-billion dollar military aid package for the country.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” said one senior State Department official, saying the delay was already being felt on the battlefield. “Our support is absolutely essential in achieving the objectives Ukraine has.”

There is a heavy security presence at the luxury Bayerischer Hof hotel

European and US officials are increasingly warning of the risk Russian President Vladimir Putin could attack other countries if his military operation in Ukraine is successful.

“It is clear Putin will not stop at Ukraine,” a second US State Department official said.

No Russian officials were invited to the MSC, for the second year in a row, as they did not seem interested in meaningful dialogue, organisers said.

The conference begins today and runs until Sunday at the luxury Bayerischer Hof hotel in the southern German city.

Additional reporting Reuters

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