Geithner Goes South

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent some of her time in Munich over the weekend calling for a change in the Middle East status quo. “Free people govern themselves best,” Clinton noted, describing a “perfect storm of powerful trends” that is brewing in the region. She described reform as a “strategic necessity.”

Clinton was speaking during a meeting of the Middle East Quartet which was taking place on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were all in attendance. As Ashton noted, “With the events we’ve witnessed in the region it’s hugely important that we make progress on the Middle East peace process.”

Also over the weekend, Secretary Clinton exchanged New START’s ratification documents with Lavrov. It’s been two years since Clinton declared a “reset” in the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Meanwhile, Timothy Geithner finds himself in much warmer climes. The treasury secretary is in Brazil today to discuss economic matters and get ready for the G20 meeting at the end of next week. At a seminar at a Sao Paulo think tank, though Geithner didn’t directly point out the Chinese elephant in the room, he did note that some of Brazil’s financial difficulties—like those stemming an influx of capital into the country—can be attributed to states “that understand the value of having an undervalued currency.” He added that Washington and Brasilia “have a common interest with Brazil and other emerging economies that growth is balanced.” Geithner is set to meet with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today.