3 Feb 2013

Europe assured of US commitment by Biden

6:28 am on 3 February 2013

United States Vice President Joe Biden has been assuring Europe that Washington's commitment to Europe remains undiminished despite America's growing focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

On the second day of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Mr Biden sought to dispel fears that the US had moved its focus away from Europe.

"President (Barack) Obama and I continue to believe that Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world and is the catalyst for our global co-operation," he said.

"It's that basic. Nothing has changed."

But AAP reports Mr Biden urged Europe to step up its co-operation with the US in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The bottom line is that the USA, Europe, we all have an important and specific interest in an Asia-Pacific region that is peaceful and growing," Biden said.

"We ought to intensify our co-operation, advance those interests, move forward together."

The Obama administration has publicly made the Asia-Pacific region a priority of its foreign diplomacy.

Opening the conference, which runs until Sunday, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday he was optimistic that the United States and Europe could rely on each other and must be able to do so even as both regions turn towards Asia.

"For the US, Europe may not be the best conceivable partner in the world, but it is without any doubt the best possible partner," he said.