World News Brief, Thursday February 16

Greek austerity package doesn't go far enough, says head of eurozone finance ministers group; Joe Biden criticises China's Xi Jinping over human rights abuses, intellectual property theft and devalued currency; Iranians arrested and charged over attempted bomb attack in Bangkok; Pakistan's Musharraf accused of knowing Osama bin Laden's hideout; UN asks for aid access to Sudan; economy remains biggest US election issue; and more

Top of the Agenda: New Doubts Over Greek Bailout Deal

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, cancelled a critical meeting focused on releasing a $170 billion EU-IMF bailout package for Greece. Despite the Greek parliament's passage of an approximately $4.3 billion austerity package on Sunday, Juncker said Athens had not accounted for an additional $427 million in savings demanded by Brussels. At the same time, the leaders of Greece's political parties had failed to provide the necessary assurances to EU leaders (DerSpiegel) that they would follow through on implementing the agreed austerity measures, Juncker said.

However, Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras, who has been highly critical of further budget reductions, responded that he would send a letter of commitment to Brussels (Reuters) by the end of today. The Greek government must also complete a bond swap deal with private bondholders by Friday as part of the bailout package.


"Greece has to repay around $19 billion in a March 20 bond redemption, and if it fails to secure further EU funding by then, it will undoubtedly face a disorderly default. Such a scenario would likely signal Greece's exit from the eurozone, with potentially significant knock-on effects for European banks," explains this CFR Analysis Brief.

"The country's unsustainable mountain of debt will of course become smaller, but that alone will hardly help. And while Athens makes even more cuts in wages, pensions and state expenditures, it isn't even remotely clear how this formula will return the Greek economy to growth. Fundamentally, Europe's strategy can be reduced to a single message: More of the same!" says this Der Spiegel analysis.

"If Italy and Spain are able to make decent progress in dealing with their own public finances, the rest of the eurozone will feel more confident about limiting the fallout from a decision to turn off the Greek tap. Greece has delayed a messy default, but it will happen eventually," notes the Economist.



Biden Criticizes China's Xi

U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. pressed Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday over China's alleged intellectual property theft, human rights abuses, its recent veto of a UN resolution against Syria, and its devalued currency on the first day of Xi's weeklong U.S. tour (NYT).

CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy discusses Xi's visit to the United States in a China Daily op-ed.

THAILAND: Officials arrested and charged two Iranians over an attempted bomb attack in Bangkok (al-Jazeera). Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the botched bombing could be linked to attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia earlier this week.

Thailand remains very vulnerable to terrorist attacks, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick on the CFR blog "Asia Unbound."



Pakistan's Musharraf accused of knowing Osama bin Laden's hideout

UN asks for aid access to Sudan

Economy still biggest US election issue

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on