Sorry's Not Enough
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will head to Germany tomorrow to discuss “the global economic outlook,” according to the Treasury Department. Libya and Iran will also be on the top of the agenda. He’ll first stop in Frankfurt (home of the European Central Bank) and then will move on to Berlin to meet with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Geithner’s trip comes as EU countries are preparing for a meeting in Brussels on Friday about ongoing economic turmoil on the Continent, and Germany increases calls for eurozone countries to pass legislation to limit debt. As Geithner told Congress on Thursday, Europe isn’t doing very well—he estimated growth there would only average around 1.5 percent, while emerging-market countries are up around 6.5 percent.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a surprise visit to Afghanistan today. He’s checking up on the progress of the war, and civilian casualties are set to take center stage. General David Petraeus, who greeted Gates in Kabul when he landed, recently apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a NATO air strike that killed nine children. Yesterday, Karzai rejected the apology and said it was “not enough.” An Afghan government statement cited civilian casualties as a “main cause of worsening the relationship between Afghanistan and the US.” Gates is expected to meet with the Afghan president today.
The defense secretary also addressed U.S. plans for withdrawal from Afghanistan and said that troops could remain in the country beyond the 2014 pullout date: “We are fully prepared to have a continuing presence here assisting the Afghans after 2014.” But that force, Gates said, “would be a small fraction of the presence that we have today.”
Marc Grossman, the recently appointed special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is in Islamabad on his first trip in his new position. He met yesterday with Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Pakistan’s finance minister. His visit continues into today.
Senators John Kerry and John McCain are both talking about a no-fly zone over Libya. Defense Secretary Gates and others in the administration, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have stressed the complexity of such an undertaking. Kerry pointed out that there were many options, some which are not as complex, like “crater[ing] the airports and the runways” to make it impossible for Libya’s air forces to use them. McCain cited Libya’s “somewhat antiquated” air defenses.
And yesterday, Clinton spoke with Egypt’s new prime minister, Essah Sharaf. The two discussed Washington’s support for “democratic transition” in Egypt and the turmoil in Libya.