(CNN) – The issue of Syria will take center stage during Vice President Biden’s five day trip to Europe as tensions continue to escalate across the region, the White House said Thursday.
The highlight of Biden’s visit to four European cities is expected to come Saturday at a national security conference in Munich, Germany, where he will meet with UN Special Representative to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and leaders of the Syrian Opposition Council, the White House announced Thursday.
The meetings come in the wake of increased sectarian strife in Syria as well as news that Israeli fighter jets Thursday struck a Syrian convoy suspected of moving weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Biden, who departs for Europe Thursday evening, will also make stops in Berlin, Paris, and London before returning to Washington on Wednesday. In each country, he is slated to sit down with top officials including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
At all the meetings, White House officials said the latest developments in Syria would be a leading topic of conversation, as well as issues surrounding the Eurozone, the French military effort in Mali, and security issues surround Iran.
President Obama’s nominee for Defense Secretary will face a tough confirmation hearing before some of his former Senate colleagues Thursday. We’ll hear from Jay Carney at today’s briefing but there is nothing public on the president’s schedule today.
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SCHEDULE:
10:00AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing/ Oval Office / Closed Press
BRIEFING SCHEDULE: 1:00PM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
Uncle Sam cut spending and businesses drew down inventories in the fourth quarter of 2012, causing the U.S. economy to contract for the first time in more than three years.
But don't start throwing around the R-word just yet.
"No one I know would seriously call this an indicator of recession," said Bill Hampel, chief economist with the Credit Union National Association.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic growth, contracted at an annual rate of 0.1% from October to December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the first quarterly contraction since the second quarter of 2009, amid the Great Recession.
One day after he flew to the Las Vegas area to push immigration reform, President Obama is expected to keep a relatively low profile Wednesday. While the president will not be making a public appearance, he is scheduled to sit down for interviews with Telemundo and Univision as he continues his immigration push. Also of note, Obama and Hillary Clinton are set to hold a private lunch as the outgoing Secretary of State gets set to formally resign her post.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney will brief reporters at 12:30 PM ET.
The president will embark on his first trip of the second term Tuesday morning when he heads to the Las Vegas, Nevada area to push immigration reform. The White House is offering few details about what the president will say in the speech and whether he will divert significantly from a bipartisan immigration proposal in the Senate. Nonetheless, it's safe to say the president will broadly endorse the Senate plan, which offers a pathway to citizenship. Obama will deliver the speech at 2:55 p.m. ET.
The White House briefing is at 12:30pm today. But before that a closed door event has been added. The President and Vice President will meet with law enforcement leaders on how to stem gun violence.
10:30AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing/ Oval Office/ Closed Press
11:15AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with representatives from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major County Sheriffs Association to discuss the common-sense policies put forward by the President to reduce gun violence/ The Roosevelt Room/ Pool Spray at the Top
12:30PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet for lunch/ Private Dining Room/ Closed Press
1:40PM THE PRESIDENT welcomes the NBA Champion Miami Heat to the White House/ The East Room/ Open Press
Waking up to Washington's first dusting of snow this winter, the president is preparing for a day largely behind closed doors. As of now there are no public events on his schedule.
However a senior administration official tells Jessica Yellin that an event will soon be added to the president's schedule: an announcement of former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White as the choice to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the same event, the president will re-nominate Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray was previously appointed to the post during a recess appointment.
Also on our radar this morning: Vice President Biden continues his role as the administration's point man on the issue of guns, set to convene a "Google Hangout" to discuss the topic this afternoon This comes a day before the vice president heads to Richmond, VA to begin the PR push on the package of gun control reforms the president proposed last week.
Washington (CNN) – After all the anticipation and waiting, perhaps the biggest bombshell about Michelle Obama's inaugural ball dress was that it really wasn't a surprise at all.
Like 2009, the first lady wore a gown by the Taiwanese-born American designer Jason Wu, who was catapulted into the highest echelons of fashion when Obama donned one of his designs four years ago.
Obama, who is known for favoring lesser-known American designers, had several dresses presented to her before she made her decision, and didn't reveal what she would wear before she stepped out on stage at the Commander-in-Chief's ball, making her repeat turn in Jason Wu a rare moment of suspense amid the scripted revelry of the inauguration.
President Obama starts his second term with more post-Inauguration festivities. In the morning, he and Mrs. Obama and the Bidens will attend the 10:45a interfaith, multi-denominational service that will represent Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. The service will take place at the Washington National Cathedral, which recently announced they will allow same-sex marriages in their church. The sermon will come from Rev. Adam Hamilton, from United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.
In the evening, the celebrations will continue and he’ll return to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, site of Monday night’s Inaugural Balls, to attend the Staff Inaugural Ball.
9:00AM In-Town Pool Call Time
10:45AM THE PRESIDENT, THE VICE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY and DR. BIDEN attend the National Prayer Service. National Cathedral
9:00PM THE PRESIDENT, THE VICE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY and DR. BIDEN attend the Staff Inaugural Ball. Walter E. Washington Convention Center
11:30AM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
It's a big day at the White House. President Obama's second inauguration begins just after 11am. Stay tuned to CNN for all the latest news and details.
7:15AM In-Town Pool Call Time
8:45AM THE FIRST FAMILY, THE VICE PRESIDENT and DR. BIDEN attend a church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
10:35AM THE FIRST FAMILY departs the White House en route Capitol Hill, United States Capitol Building, Washington, DC
11:20AM THE PRESIDENT is sworn in at the United States Capitol; THE FIRST FAMILY, THE VICE PRESIDENT and DR. BIDEN also attend. West Front of U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, DC
11:50AM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks; THE FIRST FAMILY, THE VICE PRESIDENT and DR. BIDEN also attend. West Front of U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, DC
1:05PM THE PRESIDENT, THE VICE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY and DR. BIDEN attend the inaugural luncheon. United States Capitol Building, Washington, DC JCCIC/Senate Gallery
2:40PM THE PRESIDENT, THE VICE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY and DR. BIDEN participate in the inaugural parade. Washington, DC
3:45PM THE FIRST FAMILY, THE VICE PRESIDENT and DR. BIDEN watch the inaugural parade from the presidential reviewing standing. Presidential Reviewing Stand, Washington, DC
7:00PM In-Town Pool Call Time
8:45PM THE PRESIDENT, THE VICE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY and DR. BIDEN attend the Commander-in-Chief’s Inaugural Ball. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC In-Town Travel Pool Coverage
9:10PM THE PRESIDENT, THE VICE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY and DR. BIDEN attend the Inaugural Ball. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC