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Coronavirus, nukes, 5G will be hot topics as leaders gather in Germany

A camera over the banner of Munich Security Conference is pictured on February 15, 2019 in Munich, Germany.

Florian Gaertner | Photothek | Getty Images

MUNICH — More than 500 global leaders gather here over the weekend to discuss everything from the development of 5G networks to nuclear weapons to the recent coronavirus outbreak.

The 56th Munich Security Conference, held at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel, brings together more than 35 heads of state, 100 foreign and defense ministers as well as leaders from business and international organizations. The conference will run Friday through Sunday.

This year’s attendees include French President Emmanuel Macron, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The theme of the conference, highlighted in the 2020 Munich Security Report, focuses on the feeling of “westlessness” — a widespread uneasiness that Western countries are becoming “less Western.”

“Recent years have seen estrangement and diverging positions on crucial policy challenges — ranging from arms control and global trade to climate change or the role of international institutions,” wrote the authors of the report.

This year’s conference is expected to gauge international reaction to the Trump administration’s unpredictable foreign policy, frequent trade battles and use of military force as the U.S. braces for a presidential election.

The Trump administration has pulled the U.S. back from global commitments while pushing for the denuclearization of North Korea, escalating tensions with Iran, engaging in a bitter trade war with China and continuing efforts to negotiate the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

“The prime challenge will be to agree on a common transatlantic or broader Western approach, as the ongoing difficulties in dealing with Russia, China or Iran demonstrate,” the Munich Security Report authors wrote.

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