Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Saturday, 7 February 2009

Excerpts of Joe Biden speech

US Vice-President Joe Biden

Excerpts of the speech by US Vice-President Joe Biden on the foreign policy priorities of the new administration.

It was delivered at a major international security conference in Munich on 7 February 2009.


I come to Europe on behalf of a new administration, an administration that's determined to set a new tone, not only in Washington, but in America's relations around the world. That new tone is rooted in a strong bipartisanship to meet these common challenges and we recognise that these challenges, the need to meet them is (not an opportunity), not a luxury but an absolute necessity.

In this moment our obligation to our fellow citizens is in our view to put aside the petty and political notions that reject the zero sum mentalities of rigid ideologies and to listen to and learn from one another and to work together for the common prosperity and security of all of us assembled in this room.

As we seek a lasting framework for our common struggle against extremism, we will have to work co-operatively with nations around the world - and we will need your help. For example, we will be asking others to take responsibility for some of those now at Guantanamo as we determine to close it. Our security is shared. So, too, I respectfully suggest, is our responsibility to defend it.


America will do more. That's the good news. The bad news is that America will ask for more from our partners as well.

The threats we face have no respect for borders. No single country, no matter how powerful, can best meet these threats alone. We believe the international alliances and organisations do not diminish America's power, we believe they help advance our collective security, economic interests and our values. So we'll engage, we'll listen, we'll consult. America needs the world just as I believe the world needs America.


The United States rejects the notion that Nato's gain is Russia's loss, or that Russia's strength is Nato's weakness. The last few years have seen a dangerous drift in the relations between Russia and the members of our alliance. It's time - to paraphrase President Obama - it's time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia.

We will not agree with Russia on everything. For example, the United States will not, will not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. We will not recognise any nation having a sphere of influence, it will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances. But the United States and Russia can disagree and still work together where our interests coincide, and they coincide in many places.


The United States will continue to work for a stable Afghanistan, that's not a haven for terrorists. We look forward to sharing that commitment with the government and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and with all of our allies and partners.

President Obama has ordered a strategic review of our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan to make sure that our goals are clear and that they are achievable. As we undertake that review we seek ideas and input from you and all of our partners and we genuinely seek those ideas...... But no strategy for Afghanistan in my humble opinion can succeed without Pakistan. We must all strengthen our cooperation with the people and government of Pakistan, help them stabilise their tribal areas, promote economic development and opportunity throughout their country.


We'll strive to act preventively, not pre-emptively, to avoid whenever possible and wherever possible, the choice of last resort between the risk of war and the dangers of inaction. We'll draw upon all the elements of our power, military and diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement, economic and cultural to stop crises from occurring before they are in front of us. In short we're going to attempt to capture the totality of America's strength, starting with diplomacy.

The Iranian people are a great people. The Persian civilisation is a great civilisation. But Iran acted in ways that are not conducive to peace in the region or to the prosperity of its people; its illicit nuclear programme is but one of those manifestations.

Our administration is reviewing policy toward Iran, but this much is clear: we will be willing to talk. We'll be willing to talk to Iran and to offer a very clear choice: continue down the current course and there will be continued pressure and isolation; abandon the illicit nuclear programme and your support for terrorism, and there will be meaningful incentives.


In the near term we must consolidate the ceasefire in Gaza by working with Egypt and others to stop smuggling, and developing an international relief and reconstruction effort that strengthens the Palestinian Authority, and not Hamas. Neither of these goals can be accomplished without close collaboration among the United States, Europe and our Arab partners.

It is long time past for us to secure a just Two State solution. We will work to achieve it, and to defeat the extremists who would perpetuate the conflict. And, building on the positive elements of the Arab peace initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia, we will work toward a broader regional peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours.


We will continue to develop missile defenses to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven and it is cost-effective. We will do so in consultation with you, our Nato allies, and with Russia.


America will act aggressively against climate change in a pursuit of energy security with like minded nations. Our administration's economic stimulus package, for example, includes long term investments in renewable energy and we believe that's merely a down payment.

The president has directed our environmental protection agency to review how we regulate emissions, start a process to raise fuel efficiency, appoint a climate envoy and all in his first week in office.

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