Austrians demonstrate against far-right coalition

Protesters take part in a demonstration against the current Austrian government and for Human Asylum Policy at the Heldenplatz in Vienna. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Austrians demonstrate against far-right coalition

Vienna: More than 20,000 people rallied on Saturday in Vienna against Austria’s new conservative-far right coalition, over its hard-line stances on immigration and social policy, police said.
Marchers descended on a central district housing several ministries to make known the views of a protesters’ “New Year welcome committee” for the administration of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who became the world’s youngest leader at 31 last month.
While police said 20,000 people marched, organizers claimed as many as 60,000 took to the streets to protest against the inclusion in the government of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPOe), which holds six cabinet portfolios, including that of the vice-chancellor, party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.
“What I fear the most is that this type of government becomes the norm,” said one demonstrator, 55-year-old Christa, while Tobias Grettica, a 47-year-old German, said he was worried “to see nationalism making inroads everywhere, not just in Austria.”
Anna, 23, said she was protesting against “a government that wants to divide society, demonize minorities, erode women’s rights devalue solidarity.”
People of all ages, including families, answered the call of leftist and anti-racist groups, marching in a long procession through the center of the Austrian capital.
The march came to an end at the former imperial Hofburg palace, where crowds gathered, illuminating the darkness with the light of thousands of smartphones.
On a visit to France on Friday Kurz, whose country has the only government in Western Europe to feature the far right, appealed for understanding and insisted his team was “pro-European.”
But Saturday’s marchers brandished slogans drawing parallels with the 1938 annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, one reading “those who tolerate Kurz and Strache would have applauded 1938.”
Other placards read “Resistance” and “Do not let the Nazis govern.”
The coalition is the second time Austria has seen the FPOe, formed by former Nazis in the 1950s, enter the government fold after a first spell in 2000-2005. That first occasion brought widespread international opprobrium and a swathe of demonstrations at home.
The FPOe has since softened its image. It won 26 percent of the vote in elections on October 15,
Kurz took over the OeVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections.
FPOe Interior Minister Herbert Kickl sparked an outcry Thursday by saying the government wants to “concentrate” asylum-seekers, employing a word widely associated with Nazi camps, prompting the opposition Green Party to warn against the “language of National Socialism creeping into our way of thinking and feeling.”
Strache also caused unease earlier this month by appearing to suggest that asylum-seekers should be kept in empty military barracks and subject to an evening curfew.


Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose after signing documents in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2018
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Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have started their second day of summit talks in Pyongyang over the nuclear standoff and other inter-Korean issues
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has greeted South Korean President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival in Pyongyang for their third summit this year to improve ties and help resolve the nuclear standoff

SEOUL: North Korea has agreed to “permanently” abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, and is willing to close its main nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal action, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a joint news conference following their summit talks in Pyongyang, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said they agreed to turn the Korean peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”
Kim said he will visit Seoul in the near future, in what would be the first-ever visit to the South’s capital by a North Korean leader.
The latest summit will be a litmus test for stalled negotiations on the North’s nuclear program between Pyongyang and Washington, and for another meeting Kim recently proposed to US President Donald Trump following their historic encounter in June in Singapore.
Moon was seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a framework for the North’s denuclearization and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” during his first encounter with Moon, and at his summit with Trump in June.
But discussions over how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered, with Washington demanding concrete action toward denuclearization by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang — declaring an end to the war.
North Korea has given no indication it is willing to give up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally and is seeking relief from crippling international sanctions.
North Korea has offered to stop nuclear and missile tests but did not allowed international inspections for a dismantlemnt of its only known nuclear site in May, drawing criticism that its action could not be verified and could be easily reversed.

ART TOUR
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing on Tuesday that Washington hoped the latest inter-Korean summit would bring about “meaningful, verifiable steps toward the denuclearization of North Korea” and called it a “historic opportunity” for Kim to follow through on commitments he made with Trump.
Later on Wednesday, Moon’s delegation will tour the Mansudae Art Studio, the North’s largest producer of art where state artists build statues and produce propaganda at a sprawling complex in Pyongyang.
The institution was sanctioned by the UN Security Council last year as part of global efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs by drying up its revenue sources.
Moon is also scheduled to watch the North’s signature “Brilliant Fatherland” Mass Game which was reintroduced this year following a five-year hiatus, with a formation of glowing drones, lasers and stadium-sized gymnastics shows designed to glorify the country.
The United States is pressing countries to strictly observe international sanctions, which will likely be a key theme when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts a Security Council meeting on North Korea on Sept. 27 on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.

“NEW ERA“
This week’s summit is intended to craft concrete steps to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, named after the border village where they first met, Seoul officials said.
The two Koreas also adopted a separate military accord aimed at preventing armed clashes between the old foes, which are technically still at war because the Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
The neighbors have already agreed to withdraw some guard posts and equipment, in a bid to transform the world’s most heavily fortified border into a no-weapons area.
Pyongyang says it has destroyed its main nuclear and missile engine test site, and has halted atomic and ballistic missile tests, but US officials and analysts believe it is continuing to work on its weapons plans clandestinely.
South Korea is pinning high hopes on Kim’s remarks to Moon’s special envoys earlier this month that he wanted to achieve denuclearization within Trump’s first term in office ending in early 2021. Kim at the same time also stressed Washington must reciprocate his initial “goodwill” gestures.
“While Moon has expressed his desire to agree on a concrete plan on denuclearization, we believe that the two nations still differ on this concept,” said Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In previous, failed talks, North Korea has said it could consider giving up its nuclear program if the United States provided security guarantees by removing troops from South Korea and withdrawing its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from the South and Japan.
US officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining denuclearization. (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee and Soyoung Kim; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.)