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Munich Security Conference Opens, To Consider World Crises

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) welcomes U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Chancellery in Berlin on February 1.
MUNICH, Germany -- Diplomats and defense officials from the European Union states, the United States, Russia, and many other countries have begun a three-day meeting in Munich.

The Munich Security Conference is due to consider global security threats presented by the conflicts in Syria and Mali, and by the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

Among top leaders attending are U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, both due to speak on February 2.

UN-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is also taking part, along with Moaz al-Khatib, head of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

Heavy police security is in place, with some 3,400 officers guarding the conference site in downtown Munich.