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To Set the Tone

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Looking at the following recent news headlines, what does the English idiom to set the tone mean?

Merkel sets the tone for EU leaders summit
- capitalfm.co.ke, 18 October 2012, Capital FM
Obama sets tone for budget battle over wealth tax
- irishexaminer.com, 10 November 2012, Tony Power
General Electric sets cautious tone for 2013
- theage.com.au, 20 October 2012

The expression
to set the tone means....

a) to create bad feelings
b) to play a musical instrument
c) to establish the mood or character of something
d) to ruin or destroy something

The correct
definition of to set the tone can be found here.

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