Vice President Cheney has called on nations of the world to join together in fighting terrorism and preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Speaking to global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Cheney said Saturday the United States and its partners should promote democracy and practice diplomacy in efforts to change what he called "ideologies of violence."
But if diplomacy fails, the vice president said, nations that oppose terrorism must be prepared to use military force. "Direct threats require decisive action," he said.
He defended the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, saying that if the United States had not acted, Iraq would have continued to defy the United Nations.
But observers noted a conciliatory tone in the vice president's remarks, calling it an effort to ease strained relations between the United States and some European nations that opposed the war.
Mr. Cheney also said the United States is determined to see that North Korea eliminates its nuclear program. He said that although he could not predict the outcome of current efforts to get the North to give up its nuclear ambitions, diplomacy "is the right way to proceed."
More than 2,000 economic, business and political leaders are attending World Economic Forum. The five-day conference ends Sunday.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed the forum Friday, calling on world leaders to refocus the international agenda on urgent economic issues that he said have been overshadowed by the Iraq conflict and the global war on terror. Mr. Annan said security concerns have diverted attention from other critical issues, such as poverty, healthcare and education.