Leaders from 30 countries have arrived in Munich to attend the annual security summit. The conflict in Syria and Russia's role - both in the war and in the Ukraine crisis - are topping the agenda this year.
More than 60 foreign and defense ministers gathered in Munich on Friday for the 52nd Munich Security Conference. Host Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (pictured above) opened the conference which is taking place at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in the Bavarian capital.
Von der Leyen said she was looking into a training program for Syrian refugees by soldiers of the German army. "The Bundeswehr is one of the biggest and most multifaceted employers in Germany... We train for over 100 professions, from electricians to fire fighters, from bricklayers to water technicians, from mine clearing experts to paramedics, from logistics experts to administrators," she explained.
The minister said Syrian refugees would go back home the day there was a ceasefire and peace was re-established. The United Nations estimated that the reconstruction of the country would take at least ten years, von der Leyen told the audience.
Viewers can watch the conference online through this link.
Leaders agree on Syria deal
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was also attending the weekend summit. Other prominent guests this year included US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and France's former foreign minister Laurent Fabius.
Other leaders attending the meeting include Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, Jordan's King Abdullah, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the foreign ministers from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The conflict in Syria was expected to dominate discussions after US Secretary of State Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov announced a deal to cease hostilities in the Middle Eastern country within a week. There was also a call for a ceasefire and talks to resume as soon as possible. In an exclusive interview with DW, the UN's special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said the negotiations were a breakthrough and "a commitment."
Other important themes in the weekend conference include the crisis in Ukraine and Russia's support for anti-Kyiv rebels. The war against so-called "Islamic State" militants in the Middle East and the refugee crisis were also expected to dominate the sessions. Leaders were also expected to discuss the security conference's traditional themes, including the future of NATO, transatlantic cooperation and climate and energy policy.
The Munich Security Conference is held every year in February and brings over 450 heads of state, ministers, representatives of international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry, media and civil society to debate current and future world security challenges.
The organizers also publish an annual security report for the event which claims to offer "the best platform for a frank exchange of ideas and opinions."
mg/jm (dpa, AFP)