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.
Cuban 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.
George J. Mitchell, the Obama administration's special Middle East envoy, traveled to Israel from Cairo on January 28 for a meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then on to Ramallah,West Bank, the next day to meet with Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders. However, Mitchell had no plans to meet with representatives of Hamas. The United States, Israel, and the European Union classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.
In an announcement made to reporters in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on January 20, General David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command chief, stated that the United States has reached agreements with several Central Asian countries and Russia for opening new supply routes through their territories for the U.S. and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Iceland’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.