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Biden Addresses Foreign Policy Priorities in Munich

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has laid out the foreign policy priorities of the new U.S. administration in a wide-ranging address to the 45th annual Munich Security Conference Saturday.

Biden said President Barack Obama's administration will emphasize diplomacy, democracy and development over the use of military force. But he said Washington will not hesitate to defend its interests through force if needed.

He also said that as the United States reviews its own foreign policies, it will ask the same of its allies. The vice president said he hopes NATO members will boost their commitment in Afghanistan.

Biden's speech is the first major foreign policy address - and the first speech outside the United States - by a senior member of the Obama administration since the new president was sworn in last month.

Biden said it is time for the United States to repair its relationship with Russia, where there has been what he called a "dangerous drift." He said the two nations may still disagree on some things, but can work together where their interests coincide.

He said the United States will continue to develop missile defenses to, in his words, "counter a growing Iranian capability," but he said it will do so in consultation with its NATO allies and Russia.

The vice president said the Obama administration will push for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And he said Washington is willing to talk to Iran, but will also work to pressure and isolate the country if it refuses to abandon its nuclear program.

Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer scolded some of the alliance's European members for not boosting their troop commitments in Afghanistan enough.

He did not single out any specific country, but said it is "not good for the political balance" in the alliance for Washington to shoulder most of the military burden, even as some European allies call for a greater European voice in NATO.

At the Munich conference Friday, envoys from Iran and Russia both said they saw potential for warmer ties with the United States under the new administration.

Vice President Biden will meet on the sidelines of the Munich conference with officials from Germany (Chancellor Angela Merkel), Poland (Prime Minister Donald Tusk), Ukraine (Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko), France (President Nicolas Sarkozy), Britain (Foreign Secretary David Miliband) and NATO (Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer).

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.