Brown to meet Obama, press for international financial regulations; EU leaders reject Eastern European bailout; South Korean industry in record decline; Guinea-Bissau president shot dead; and more
Top of the Agenda: UK-US Economic Meetings
U.S. President Barack Obama meets British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today in a meeting that could serve as a preview of next month's G-20 summit. The Financial Times reports the meeting, Brown's first with Obama since the new president took office, is being portrayed by British officials as a "make-or-break" chance to lobby Obama to engage in international efforts to combat the economic crisis. Specifically, the article says Brown wants Obama to forecast what he hopes to achieve at the G-20 summit, including signals as to whether Obama will support calls for greater international regulation and a strengthening of institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
The meetings come with the economic crisis continuing to wreak havoc both economically and politically on either sides of the Atlantic. The United States this weekend broadened a bailout it had provided its largest insurer, AIG, providing the firm an additional $30 billion on top of bailout funds already issued to the company. The deal gives the U.S. Treasury a 77.9 percent equity stake in AIG. The Washington Post reports the new bailout plan is rooted in the idea that AIG's failure would imperil the U.S. economy more broadly.
Meanwhile, EU leaders, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, rejected calls (WSJ) for a sweeping bailout of Eastern European banks, in a move analysts say poses one of the most significant threats to EU solidarity since the bloc formed. The Financial Times reports Merkel and other leaders prefer an alternative tack of lending to Eastern European states on a case-by-case basis, rather than approving a broad umbrella aid grant. The Economist's new cover story takes an in-depth look at Eastern Europe's troubles and Western Europe's response, saying the situation could potentially break apart the European Union.
PACIFIC RIM: US-China Defense Talks
China Daily quotes a senior U.S. defense official as saying recently completed defense talks between the United States and China were "more frank and more direct" than any he had been a part of in more than ten years.
S.KOREA: The Korea Times reports South Korea's industrial output fell by 26 percent in January from the year before, its sharpest pace of decline on record.
Guinea-Bissau president, army chief killed; capital reportedly stable.
Pakistan's Zardari reportedly open to reversing ruling banning Sharif from politics.
Gaza aid summit raises billions for reconstruction.