With the White House looking to engage Moscow over tactical nuclear weapons reductions, Russia is out and about with Prime Minister Putin chatting with Vice President Joe Biden and President Medvedev meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Happy Birthday to Belgium on the first birthday of its record breaking stint without a government. Joyeux anniversaire, Lang zal hij leven in de gloria!
Biden-Putin Talks Touch on Missile Defense (Defense News)
U.S. Vice President Biden and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on April 21 discussed Moscow’s goal of joining the World Trade Organization and missile defense cooperation, the White House said.
Biden and Putin talked about "the Obama administration’s commitment to terminate" the application to Russia of a Cold War-era U.S. law that blocks certain non-market economies that restrict emigration from joining the WTO.
Ban, Medvedev discuss UN role, Libya (RIA Novosti)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday stressed the need to comply with UN mandates in international operations involving the use of military force.
"The president emphasized our consistent, immutable position in support of the UN and the consistent strengthening of the legal foundations of its activity on the basis of strict observance of the organization’s charter," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the meeting.
The U.S. cabinet is working intensively to increase transparency on tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) in Europe and secure an agreement with Russia on the reduction of such weapons, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller has said.
Crunch time in Libya (The Economist)
The allies are sending out dangerous signs of confusion just when resolution is most needed. Only five weeks after Western aircraft flew their first sorties over Libya, the fight has already become wearily familiar. The rebel advance and Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s claw back towards the east have been succeeded by what looks like stalemate. The outrage that united the world against the threat of butchery in Benghazi has begun to dull. The coalition’s different interests have reasserted themselves.
NATO Denies Reported Bomb Shortage in Libya (Defense News)
Countries in the NATO-led air campaign have enough precision munitions and aircraft to attack ground targets and keep military pressure on the Libyan government forces, a senior alliance official and national defense officials said.
Easter greetings (The Economist)
Poland’s festering row with Lithuania is getting worse not better. On April 19th, Poland’s foreign ministry invited the Lithuanian ambassador to hear official concerns [link in English] about what the Warsaw authorities see as the abuse and mistreatment of the Polish-speaking minority in Lithuania. The full text is available in Polish on the MFA website, but not (as far as I can see) in English. However a previous statement on Lithuania’s education reform gives a flavour of the hurt feelings. No response so far (as far as I can see) from Lithuania.
The Greek authorities have asked Interpol to question a London trader over an email he sent which talked of the high chance of a Greek default. The email, published in a Greek newspaper, refers to "increased noise" over a Greek debt restructuring as early as Easter.
The expanding war (PressEurop)
With its military advisors already in Benghazi, Nato’s military involvement in the civil war in Libya is deepening. But as Colonel Gaddafi’s forces dig in, the outcome could hardly be more difficult to discern.
EDITORIALS AND COLUMNS:
What’s another year without government? (PressEurop)
Since 22 April 2010 and the resignation of Prime Minister Yves Leterme, Belgium has been ruled by a caretaker government, while the French and Flemish parties have been unable to reach agreement on power sharing between the two communities. The Belgian press has responded with exasperation to the anniversary of the ongoing political crisis.
Unworthy of ourselves (De Morgen)
What is the source of the obnoxious atmosphere sweeping across Europe? At a time when populations are more and more inward looking and political leaders irresponsible, Europe is increasingly a cause for scandal. A Belgian columnist sets the record straight. (Full Text in Dutch)