Munich Security Conference: Kamala Harris vows continued U.S. global engagement

Vice President Kamala Harris told the Munich Security Conference Friday that the Biden administration is committed to continued global engagement with allies amid multiple world security threats. Photo by Anna Szilagyi/EPA-EFE
1 of 4 | Vice President Kamala Harris told the Munich Security Conference Friday that the Biden administration is committed to continued global engagement with allies amid multiple world security threats. Photo by Anna Szilagyi/EPA-EFE

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- At the Munich Security Conference Friday Vice President Kamala Harris directly addressed European questions and concerns about U.S. global leadership as she made it clear the Biden administration is committed to engaging with the world rather than turn inward.

The international community's key annual security summit got underway in Germany with Harris one of several scheduled speakers as the Ukraine and Gaza wars, rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific, NATO expansion and the prospect of a second Trump administration in Washington led the agenda.


"I believe it is in the fundamental interest of the American people for the United States to fulfill our longstanding role of global leadership," Harris said in her remarks. "As President Biden and I have made clear over the past three years, we are committed to pursue global engagement, to uphold international rules and norms, to defend democratic values at home and abroad, and to work with our allies and partners in pursuit of shared goals."


Harris said in the face of multiple global security challenges the United States must remain engaged and in solidarity with allies as she outlined some of the global security threats.

"This year we gather amid an increased insecurity and conflict in the Middle East," Harris said. "We gather amid Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine, China's efforts to reshape the international order, transformative technological change and of course the existential threat of the climate crisis."

Harris said that global engagement approach and sustaining strong alliances make America strong and keep Americans safe.

"However, there are some in the United States who disagree," Harris said. "They suggest it is in the best interest of the American people to isolate ourselves from the world, to flout common understandings among nations, to embrace dictators and adopt their repressive tactics and abandon commitments to our allies in favor of unilateral action."

She said that world view "is dangerous, destabilizing" and shortsighted. She said that view would weaken America and undermine global stability and prosperity.

Harris reiterated that "Joe Biden and I stand with Ukraine" as she praised Europe for also supporting Ukraine.

The three-day Munich Security Conference, bringing together around 60 heads of state and high-level officials to discuss emerging and ongoing security concerns around the world, comes days after former U.S. President Donald Trump said he would not protect NATO members that failed to meet their defense spending commitments from invasion by Russia or others.


Attendees include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg who sought to play down Trump's comments saying political differences within the alliance were nothing new.

"The United States has conveyed very clearly to all NATO allies, and also at today's Defense Ministerial Meeting, that they stand by their NATO commitment," he told BBC Radio.

"It has increased its military presence in Europe and NATO allies have more forces and more military presence in the eastern part of the alliance."

Stoltenberg stressed the alliance was made up of 31 democracies and there had always been differences and disagreements such as the Suez Crisis in the 1950s rows in the 1960s that saw NATO leave France, but he acknowledged Trump's comments were dangerous.

"Any suggestion that we're not going to protect each other undermines the security of all of us."

Speaking at the conference, Stoltenberg also urged alliance members to continue to supply arms and ammunition to Ukraine for the sake of "a lasting peace," stressing that investment in defense also had the added benefit of creating good, highly skilled jobs in places like Bavaria where a new facility will build Patriot Missiles.


"This requires expanding our transatlantic industrial base to increase deliveries to Ukraine and refill our own stocks. And shifting from slow peacetime to the high tempo of conflict -- to produce more at a higher speed."

In a post on X, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a packed two-day schedule taking in meetings with partners French President Emmanuel Macronand and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. new agreements and the security conference.

Macron and Zelensky were expected to sign a new security cooperation agreement between the two countries later Friday, the second of a series of bi-lateral deals pledged by some NATO allies in July in lieu of membership of the defense pact.

"A new security architecture for Ukraine, as well as new opportunities. We are making every effort to end the war as soon as possible on fair Ukrainian terms and ensure a lasting peace," wrote Zelensky.

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