Morning Brief: The Obamans abroad

Top Story Foreign-policy watchers have been told to expect a major address from U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at this weekend’s Munich Security Conference. “Stay tuned,” a senior administration official told the New York Times‘ Helene Cooper. “It will be dramatic.” The key issue to watch? How the Obama administration will handle a potential brewing ...

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588734_090206_biden5.jpg

Top Story

Foreign-policy watchers have been told to expect a major address from U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at this weekend's Munich Security Conference.

"Stay tuned," a senior administration official told the New York Times' Helene Cooper. "It will be dramatic."

Top Story

Foreign-policy watchers have been told to expect a major address from U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at this weekend’s Munich Security Conference.

“Stay tuned,” a senior administration official told the New York Times‘ Helene Cooper. “It will be dramatic.”

The key issue to watch? How the Obama administration will handle a potential brewing spat with Russia over U.S. basing rights in Kyrgyzstan, a key link in the U.S. logistical chain for Afghanistan. U.S. officials are scrambling for alternatives amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation in South Asia. More on that here.

Craig Whitlock previews another possible flashpoint at the conference: between the United States and its European allies over their contributions to the fight in Afghanistan.

Also attending: national security advisor Gen. James L. Jones, South Asia envoy Richard Holbrooke; Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, and Centcom commander Gen. David H. Petraeus. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be departing for her own trip abroad, to Asia, on Feb. 15.

Americas

Senate Democrats hope to pass the economic stimulus bill today.

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with victims of the 9/11 attacks.

The last politician thought to be held by the FARC has been released.

Iran is “pouring millions of dollars into Bolivia,” according to the Miami Herald.

Middle East

“Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s strong performance in Iraq’s provincial elections was also a victory for American goals,” according to the Washington Post.

But others, including FP‘s own Marc Lynch, have a few concerns. “The elections have created new problems that need to be recognized and dealt with,” Lynch writes.

With four days to go before the Israeli elections, the Kadima and Likud parties are virtually tied in the latest Haaretz poll.

Asia

Civilians are fleeing a battle zone where the Sri Lankan government claims it has encircled the Tamil Tiger rebels.

A.Q. Khan, Pakistan’s “rogue” nuclear scientist, says he’s been granted more freedom. The FT has more.

ABC News reports that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates “has deferred a much-anticipated decision on sending additional troops into Afghanistan until President Obama decides what force levels he wants.”

Japan’s infrastructure spending in the 1990s, intended to stimulate a stagnating economy, offers a cautionary tale for the Obama administration.

Europe

Britain’s central bank cut interest rates Thursday to 1 percent.

The trial for the sensational murder of Meredith Kercher, an English student living in Italy before her death in November 2007, began Thursday.

File photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

Joshua Keating is on vacation today.

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