Vice President Biden; U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo H. Daalder; U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual; U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy
Munich, Germany
February 3, 2013

A U.S. delegation headed by Vice President Biden participated in the 49th Munich Security Conference, held February 1-3, 2013. The Munich Security Conference gathers senior figures from around the world to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges. Topics this year included defense spending, energy security, and the transatlantic alliance.

Vice President Biden: And it’s hard to imagine a single threat or a single opportunity that cannot be addressed more effectively if we do so together. Simply put, President Obama and I continue to believe that, Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world and is the catalyst for our global cooperation. It’s that basic. Nothing has changed.

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo H. Daalder: Our top priority in 2013 in Afghanistan is the same as our challenge. We must make clear, we must secure the transition of Afghanistan so that Afghan security forces are going to be in the lead for security responsibility throughout the country. Not just in some provinces, but in every province. Not just in some cities, but in every city. Not just in some villages, but in every village. And our mission as the President said it a few weeks ago, is to shift our focus from combat to support, from leading the effort to improving security to Afghanistan to supporting the Afghans in doing this for them. That's what we're doing in 2013 so that by the end of 2014 we can have accomplished our mission, the combat mission will end, and our future with Afghanistan will be a very different one - one of strategic partnership rather than of war.

Ambassador Carlos Pascual, U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs: What we've learned is that energy security is absolutely intertwined with our national security. It's intertwined with our economic growth and environmental sustainability, and all of those are fundamental foreign policy issues. And so what we have seen with the Munich Security Conference is an attempt to actually integrate basic hard security, economics and sustainability of the planet in a way that makes sense to policy makers. Energy is at the core of that. It affects who has wealth and power. It affects whether economies can grow. It affects the way we power our economies, and actually move into the future and whether that is going to keep us on a sustainable path and so having that kind of discussion here is central to the way policy makers make their choices.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy: I thought the Vice President gave a terrific speech. It's a template for all who wonder about our relationship with Europe, what the significance of it is today and he used some very powerful, as you suggest, some very powerful words. And it is one thing to say those things. I've had the great honor for the past three and a half years to live that, to see it in action, to test the thesis that we are still as close as we claim we are, to Germany, to Europe generally. And it lives every single day and we've got multiple examples just in the past 24 hours: the Vice President in a long, meaningful, substantive meeting with the Bundeskanzlerin, meeting last night with groups of representatives from the German government, this morning a big congressional delegation with a whole range of members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The evidence is overwhelming. These are our partners of first resort, even when we can do things on our own, we're better doing it with others and we look first always to our great partners and allies in Europe and I think the Vice President really captured that.