Greece to send 1,000 refugees to Portugal

Mothers and their children in a center run by the Amurtel NGO in Athens’ Victoria Square. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2019
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Greece to send 1,000 refugees to Portugal

  • Over 70,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece following a mass influx from 2015 onwards
  • Conditions are worst on the islands of Lesbos and Samos, where there are over 9,000 people in camps built to handle a third of that number

ATHENS: Greece’s migration ministry on Friday said it had concluded a bilateral agreement with Portugal to gradually relocate 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers.
“A first phase involves the relocation of 100 persons granted and/or seeking international protection who are currently in Greek (camps),” the ministry said in a statement.
Over 70,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece following a mass influx from 2015 onwards. Most were fleeing war-torn Syria and want to go to wealthier EU states such as Germany.
Of these, over 15,000 are housed in badly overcrowded camps on Greek islands where living conditions have been repeatedly criticized by rights groups.
Conditions are worst on the islands of Lesbos and Samos, where there are over 9,000 people in camps built to handle a third of that number.
The Greek government says the problem is partly caused by a huge backlog of refugee asylum applications, and by the refusal of several EU states to take in asylum-seekers.


Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

Updated 24 min 27 sec ago
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Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

  • Language was dropped after consideration of latest developments surrounding North Korea
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea

TOKYO: Japan on Tuesday dropped the push to apply “maximum pressure” on North Korea from its official foreign policy, an apparent softening of Tokyo’s position as major powers engage with Pyongyang.
In last year’s “Diplomatic Bluebook,” published when tensions on the Korean peninsula were soaring, Japan said it was coordinating efforts with its allies to “maximize pressure on North Korea by all available means.”
But this language was dropped from this year’s edition, drawn up after diplomats had “taken comprehensively into account the latest developments surrounding North Korea,” according to chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.
“There have been major developments in the situation surrounding North Korea in light of events such as the US-North Korea summits in June last year and February,” Suga told reporters.
Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea, frequently offering to meet leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the decades-old issue of Japanese civilians kidnapped by the North.
“Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea by comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues as well as settling an unfortunate past,” Suga said.
Tokyo has been one of the most hawkish of the major powers on North Korea and has been on the receiving end of some of Pyongyang’s harshest rhetoric — as well as missiles launched over its territory.
Until late 2017, North Korea repeatedly tested missiles that flew toward or over Japan, sparking warnings blared out on loudspeakers and stoking calls for a tough stance against Pyongyang.
However, Japan now finds itself battling to keep itself relevant in the fast-moving North Korea issue as Kim expands his diplomatic circle.
Kim is now preparing for talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, after multiple meetings with US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.
Abe will soon meet Trump at the White House where the issue of North Korea is bound to be on the table.