Germany should take a greater military role in the fight against Islamic State, diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger said ahead of the Munich Security Conference, where foreign policy and defence officials will meet from Friday to discuss global crises.

"It would be better if Germany acted with more confidence," said Ischinger, who chairs the three-day conference that brings together more than 30 heads of state and government and 60 foreign and defence ministers in the Bavarian capital.

"If the Danes, the Brits and the French can do it, so can we," he said in reference to a US-led air campaign against the extremist group in Syria and Iraq which includes over a dozen countries.

Germany, one of Europe's least militaristic nations, decided against flying airstrikes and instead sent just a naval frigate and Tornado reconnaissance jets to Syria in support of the French air campaign in November.

Fresh impetus for a durable end to the Syrian conflict, implementation of the Minsk agreement in Ukraine and a joint strategy to end political upheaval in Libya are among the desired outcomes of the conference, said Ischinger, 69, a former German ambassador.  

Another goal is to coordinate efforts to overcome Boko Haram, a jihadist militant group that has terrorized Nigeria and its neighbours.

Ischinger was speaking to dpa on Thursday, just hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and UN envoy Staffan de Mistura announced a partial truce in Syria to take effect in one week's time.

The announcement of a "cessation of hostilities," which excludes military efforts to defeat the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front Islamist militias, came after nearly six hours of negotiations between the three diplomats and European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers in Munich.

Ischinger said that a greater degree of coordination between Washington and Moscow was required in order to bring about a durable end to the war, now in its fifth year.

"One would have to place all troops under a single command - one general would have to be put in charge to make sure there are no crossed wires," he said. "That has been missing thus far."

The 52nd edition of the Munich Security Conference was to be inaugurated by German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Friday. Aside from the conflict in Syria, delegates were to discuss the fight against international terrorism, the refugee crisis and the future of the NATO alliance.

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