Advertisements

‘If You’ve Got it, Flaunt It’

flaunt

Do they got it? Perhaps they do. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.

KOBLENZ, Germany (AP) — European nationalist leaders came together Saturday in a show of strength at the start of a year of big election tests, celebrating Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president and declaring themselves a realistic alternative to the continent’s governments.

Right-wing populist leaders from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and elsewhere strode confidently into the Koblenz congress hall on the banks of the Rhine River ahead of a flag-waving escort, setting the tone for a gathering whose mood was buoyed by Trump’s swearing-in. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.

lepenpoll

“I believe we are witnessing historic times,” Dutch anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders told reporters. “The world is changing. America is changing. Europe is changing. And the people start getting in charge again.”

Wilders, speaking in English, declared that “the genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not.”

marine_le_penfrench_far-right_party_leader

The Netherlands will provide the next major test for populist parties’ support. Wilders’ Party of Freedom could win the largest percentage of votes in the March 15 Dutch parliamentary election, even though it is shunned by other parties and unlikely to get a share of power.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, is among the top contenders in France’s April-May presidential vote. In September, Frauke Petry’s four-year-old Alternative for Germany party hopes to enter the German parliament in a national election, riding sentiment against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming policy toward refugees. Other German parties say they won’t work with the anti-immigrant group.

Those at the Koblenz conference Saturday are part of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament, which was launched in 2015. The gathering also featured Matteo Salvini of Italy’s anti-migrant Northern League and Harald Vilimsky, the general secretary of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party, which last year narrowly failed to win the country’s presidency. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Negotiators Announce Preliminary Outline of a Possible Framework for Tentative Pending Agreement on Iran Nuke Program

iran-fox-breaking

Iran nuclear talks extend beyond deadline

International negotiators on Thursday announced a preliminary agreement on Iran’s nuclear program sketching the framework for a final deal, capping days of exhaustive and tense talks that blew past their original deadline.

At a press conference in Switzerland, negotiators unveiled the framework that would guide the next phase of talks. The U.S., Iran and five other world powers plan to continue working on a deal, in hopes of striking a final agreement by a June 30 deadline.

IMG_9162

President Obama plans to speak about the framework in the Rose Garden Thursday afternoon.

Secretary of State John Kerry, earlier, tweeted that all sides have the “parameters to resolve major issues” and will soon get back to work on a “final deal.”

“Big day,” he tweeted.

Reading out a joint statement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the seven nations would now start writing the text of a final accord. She cited several agreed-upon restrictions on Iran’s enrichment of material that can be used either for energy production or in nuclear warheads. She said Iran won’t produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Crucially for the Iranians, economic sanctions related to its nuclear programs are to be rolled back after the U.N. nuclear agency confirms compliance.

The apparent breakthrough comes after days of talks that went into overtime after missing a March 31 deadline, raising doubts on whether the negotiators could reach any agreement at all. Read the rest of this entry »


Nuclear Talks With Iran Head Toward Endgame as Deadlines Loom

Fabius

French say accord must include transparency on Tehran’s future nuclear activities

LAUSANNE, Switzerland— Laurence Norman reports: Several European foreign ministers arrived in Switzerland for nuclear talks with Iran on Saturday, with Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying the negotiations were now entering the endgame.

Officials said it remained unclear, however, if Iran and the six-power group with which it negotiates would be able to meet a March 31 deadline to reach a political understanding on the main parameters of a nuclear deal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had already held two days of talks in this Swiss lakeside city with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other top officials. A senior U.S. official described those talks on Friday as tough and very serious.

Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference on February 8. Photo: Reuters

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference on February 8. Photo: Reuters

“Sanctions, pressure and an agreement do not go together.”

—Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Saturday, after meeting with his French and German counterparts.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Mr. Steinmeier and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also arrived here on Saturday, as the two sides made a final 72 hour push to advance the talks.

Failure to reach a political deal on time would pile pressure on the Obama administration in Washington, where lawmakers from both parties have threatened to advance legislation increasing sanctions on Iran, when Congress returns from recess. Such a situation could trigger a major crisis in the diplomatic efforts.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Friday that any political deal may simply be a political statement with a narrative about the main points. Mr. Hammond suggested meeting the March 31 deadline could be challenging and said the current congressional break gave the negotiators some extra leeway to seal a political deal.

A final, detailed nuclear agreement is due to be sealed by June 30.

“The discussions have been long, difficult. We advance on some points and on other points not enough.”

—French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Saturday

Speaking to reporters on Saturday outside the luxury hotel where the talks are taking place, Mr. Fabius said: “I come here with the wish to advance towards a robust accord.”

“The discussions have been long, difficult. We advance on some points and on other points not enough,” he added.

Mr. Fabius said that what is very important is the transparency Iran agrees to for overseeing its nuclear activities and the “controls, to be sure that the commitments made are respected.”

Kerry-bump-reuters-denis-bailbouse

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Germany’s Mr. Steinmeier struck a brighter tone as he headed into an afternoon of meetings with Mr. Kerry, Mr. Fabius and Iran’s Mr. Zarif. He said that after 12 years of nuclear talks with Iran, negotiations have entered the endgame. However, he said the final steps to be taken “are the most difficult but also the decisive ones.”

“I can only hope that given what we have achieved in the last 12 months that we don’t cease to try and reach a final agreement. The last 12 months have shown that there is serious willingness on all sides to negotiate,” he said.

Mr. Fabius has adopted a strong line in the Iran talks in recent weeks, with France appearing at odds with the U.S., at times, over what a final nuclear agreement must contain. Read the rest of this entry »