Merkel to attend Munich Security Conference: sources

BERLIN:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the Munich Security Conference next week, government sources have told Reuters.

US Vice President Mike Pence has already accepted an invitation to the event, which takes place amid uncertainty about transatlantic relations after President Donald Trump said he viewed NATO as obsolete and criticized Merkel's policies.

Merkel last took part in the annual Munich Security Conference in 2015. In a telephone call with Trump on Jan. 29, she told him that the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for banning refugees or people from Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.

A meeting in Munich with Pence would be her first with a senior Trump administration official.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis are also expected to be in Munich for the Feb. 17-19 conference, which has become one of the world's most important foreign and security policy gatherings.

Participants will discuss the future of transatlantic relations, NATO and the EU, the Ukraine crisis, ties to Russia and the war in Syria, according to the conference's chairman Wolfgang Ischinger.