Talking to Turkey

At the Pentagon yesterday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta met with his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak. According to a spokesman, Panetta stressed “America's continued commitment to ensuring Israel's qualitative military edge” in particular. The SecDef is expected to travel to the region “in the near future” to meet with Barak again in what will be the pair’s third meeting since Panetta took office.

The sitdown came as tensions continue to rise in Israel’s neighborhood. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, yesterday and explained Washington’s concern about Israel and Turkey's strained relations. She called on Ankara to mend its relationship with Israel. President Obama will meet today with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The UN General Assembly opens tomorrow in New York, and later in the week the Palestinians are expected to make a bid for statehood in the Security Council.

Clinton also spoke at a pre-General Assembly event at the UN about women in politics. Along with Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff, Clinton called for greater equality for women in the political sphere. She tried to bring some levity to the room, quipping, “As someone who tried to be a president, it's very encouraging to see those who actually ended up as a president.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is meanwhile denying reports in Ron Suskind’s new book, Confidence Men, that he ignored a request from President Obama to consider dissolving Citigroup. “I lived the original, and the reality I lived, we all lived together, bears no relation to the sad little stories I heard reported from that book,” Geithner said. White House spokesman Jay Carney cautioned that the book gets many facts wrong. Neither has read the book.