Europe

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, participating in a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on March 5, invited her counterparts to make a "fresh start" in their diplomatic relationship with Russia. Formal relations between NATO and Russia were suspended last August over differences concerning Russia's military operations in Georgia and its breakaway regions.

Biden in GermanyVice President Joseph Biden told attendees of the 45th annual Munich Security Conference that President Obama plans to have the United States continue its role as global cop under “strong partnerships.” Speaking for the new administration, Biden explained in his February 7 address that those partnerships include the NATO alliance (a United Nations regional affiliate). He urged that NATO take on a global role and "act in and out of area more effectively."

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel proposed a new “global financial architecture” at the Davos World Economic Forum on January 30. But press coverage of the five-day event (ending February 1) focused upon side events, such as the spat between Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the many other verbal slights at the event.

Raul CastroCuban President Raul Castro began an eight-day visit in Russia on January 29, when he met informally with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a hunting lodge in Zavidovo, about 90 miles north of Moscow. More formal talks were held in the Kremlin the next day, where the two leaders signed a partnership pact between the two nations. It was the first visit by a Cuban leader to Russia since the end of the Cold War.

IcelandIceland’s government has become the first state casualty to collapse from the economic crisis currently engulfing the globe. A new election is scheduled for May 9. Amid protests that have become increasingly violent, Prime Minister Geir Haarde resigned this week along with Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, the nation’s top economic minister. The International Monetary Fund is even coming to the rescue, something that while typical in “developing countries,” hasn’t happened to a Western European nation in over three decades. The economy is forecasted to shrink by 10 percent in 2009 according to the Icelandic Finance Ministry, possibly worse.

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