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Two Officers Injured as Rally Ends in Violence: Hong Kong Update

Two Officers Injured as Rally Ends in Violence: Hong Kong Update(Bloomberg) -- Two Hong Kong police officers were beaten at a rally in the city center that was dispersed as it descended into confusion and violent clashes.The officers, from the Police Community Liaison Office, the both suffered head wounds after being attacked with wooden sticks and other weapons near the gathering in Chater Garden in the Central business district. The meeting of thousands of protesters started peacefully with speeches and music but was dispersed when police ordered an end to it, citing violent behavior by protesters.Sunday’s events followed a relative lull in the past weeks, after seven months of sometimes-violent protests that were ignited by a bill to allow extraditions to mainland China. The demonstrators’ demands have broadened to include greater democracy and an independent inquiry into police conduct.Here’s the latest (all times local):Venue cleared (5 p.m.)The Chater Garden venue was virtually cleared of the throngs of demonstrators gathered earlier for a rally scheduled to run until 10 p.m. The meeting was meant to reinvigorate the Hong Kong protest movement, with a list speakers from trade unions, religious groups and student associations.Objects thrown at officers (4:30 p.m.)Police said that they asked the organizers to suspend the rally in response to violence from some people at the scene. Objects were thrown at officers, according to a statement.Police scuffled with demonstrators who spilled into roads and set fire to barricades. Officers handcuffed a number of people. At least one person was bleeding from a head wound.‘Refocus on Hong Kong’ (2:30 p.m.)One of the organizers of Sunday’s rally, Ventus Lau of the Hong Kong Civil Assembly team, said at the event: “Today we believe we need to make the world focus on Hong Kong again. In the past few weeks, maybe they’ve been focusing on Iran or even on the Taiwan election. But now, it is time to look at Hong Kong again.”“It is 2020, the year of the Legislative Council election. If the government refuses to give us universal suffrage, this is a clear sign that they are still suppressing our human rights, our freedom and our democracy,” he said.Air traffic drops (11:30 a.m.)Traffic through Hong Kong International Airport declined across the board last year as months of ongoing unrest, including protest-related closures at the transit hub.The airport handled 71.5 million passengers in 2019, down 4.2% from a year earlier, the Airport Authority Hong Kong said in a press release Sunday. Flight movements fell 1.9% while total cargo throughput declined 6.1% from a year ago to 4.8 million tonnes.Some of the more violent clashes seen in Hong Kong happened at the airport and its rail link last year as protesters organized sit-ins that led to the delays and cancellation of hundreds of flights.Watchdog limitations (Sunday 8 a.m.)Lisa Lau, a former member of the Independent Police Complaints Council, said the body’s lack of investigative powers is an impediment to investigating the protests, and added the group has not yet met with the police commander in charge of the July incident in Yuen Long when subway riders were violently attacked, Ming Pao reported Sunday.Wong calls for support (3 p.m.)Activist Joshua Wong said the number of participants in Sunday’s march is crucial to continue informing the international community of Hong Kong’s ongoing struggle. Speaking to local media, he said the movement needs to maintain a sufficient level of demonstrators at the marches to ensure the world’s attention does not wane.Ventus Lau told Radio Television Hong Kong that protesters must be aware they might be involved in clashes with police.Demonstrators “may be stopped and searched by the police or you may face clashes between the police and the citizens,” given past experiences, he said.Pro-establishment support (Saturday 2 p.m.)More than 100 people gathered in Kowloon Tong Saturday to protest what they see as anti-government bias from local broadcaster RTHK. Elsewhere, about 50 pro-police supporters rallied outside the Mong Kok police station, presenting officers with gifts to show their support.\--With assistance from Kari Lindberg.To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Lam in Hong Kong at elam87@bloomberg.net;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 9:11 am

Lebanon to release protesters detained after night of riots

Lebanon to release protesters detained after night of riotsLebanon's public prosecutor ordered the release Sunday of more than 30 people detained the previous evening, according to the National State News agency, in the worst day of violence since protests erupted three months ago. The public prosecutor said all 34 arrested are to be released, except those with other pending cases. The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in late October.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:53 am

North Korea Picks Army Man Who Led Korean Talks as Top Envoy

North Korea Picks Army Man Who Led Korean Talks as Top Envoy(Bloomberg) -- North Korea named a former army officer who led military and high-level talks between the two Koreas as its top diplomat, Yonhap News reported, in a move that could change the course of stalled nuclear negotiations between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.Foreign envoys in Pyongyang were notified late last week that Ri Son Gwon replaced Ri Yong Ho as foreign minister, Yonhap said, citing various sources it didn’t identify. Ri Yong Ho had served as the top diplomat since 2016.South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a text message that the government is trying to confirm whether the foreign minister was replaced and Ri Son Gwon’s official title has been changed. The move, which is yet to be announced in North Korea’s state media, is likely to be confirmed to resident diplomats at an event scheduled for Jan. 23 in Pyongyang, NK News reported separately.Ri Son Gwon, former chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, became known to South Koreans after he led a delegation to high-level inter-Korean talks in January 2018. He was accused of being rude to a visiting group of South Korean conglomerate chiefs later that year, appearing to rebuke them for not taking enough action to boost business development between the two sides.The apparent replacement comes days after the isolated nation publicly declared that it won’t rely on its leader’s personal relationship with Trump as it doesn’t intend to trade its nuclear weapons for a halt in sanctions.Since the failure of working-level denuclearization talks in October in Stockholm, Pyongyang hasn’t responded to Washington’s continued demands for another talk and instead stepped up tensions verbally and with weapons tests.‘Crucial’ TestMost recently, it said late last year that it successfully conducted a “crucial” test at a long-range projectile launch site and had boosted its nuclear-deterrent capabilities, without elaborating on details.Kim declared in a speech at the start of the year that a lack of U.S. response in nuclear talks meant he was no longer bound by his pledge to halt major missile tests and would soon debut a “new strategic weapon.” Declining to go into detail, Kim also left the outside world guessing what “new path” he will take, and how he will deal with the U.S. in 2020.Ri Son Gwon served as a senior colonel in 2010 and last appeared in the North’s state media when the KCNA reported in April he was elected as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee along with Choe Son Hui, first vice-minister of foreign affairs. He previously also led a working-level military dialogue between the two Koreas in 2011.Ri has no direct experience of dealing with the U.S., nor is an official with the traditional elite-diplomat background, said Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, casting doubts over a possible breakthrough in the U.S.-North Korea talks.“I think the North will take a harder line against the U.S.,” Cheong said. It “will be under greater influence of the military, which has urged to strengthen its position as a nuclear power,” he said.The replacement of foreign minister also coincides with Seoul’s sudden turn to improve inter-Korean ties as the Kim-Trump talks for denuclearization remain in deadlock and rising cracks in South Korea’s relations with the U.S.South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would help on projects such as individual tourism with North Korea if they require approval from the United Nations to exempt them from sanctions. His Unification Ministry later said the government is considering allowing South Korean individuals to travel to North Korea to expand inter-Korean exchanges in the private sector.U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said such a push by Seoul should be discussed with the U.S., and his comment was immediately denounced by Moon’s office as “very inappropriate.”(Updates with comments from South Korea’s Unification Ministry and analyst from third paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at kkong50@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Virginia Van Natta, Jiyeun LeeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:49 am

Iran warns of repercussions for IAEA over European moves

Iran warns of repercussions for IAEA over European movesIran's parliamentary speaker on Sunday warned of unspecified repercussions for the UN's nuclear watchdog if European nations that launched a dispute mechanism against the Islamic republic act "unfairly". Britain, France and Germany launched a process last week charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the 2015 deal curtailing its nuclear programme, while Tehran accuses the bloc of inaction over US sanctions. The EU three insisted they remained committed to the agreement, which has already been severely undermined by the US exit from it in 2018 and its reimposition of unilateral sanctions on key sectors of Iran's economy.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:47 am

World powers in Berlin to seek elusive Libya peace

World powers in Berlin to seek elusive Libya peaceWorld leaders gather in Berlin on Sunday to make a fresh push for peace in Libya, in a desperate bid to stop the conflict-wracked nation from turning into a "second Syria". Chancellor Angela Merkel will be joined by the presidents of Russia, Turkey and France and other world leaders for talks from around 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) held under the auspices of the United Nations. Leaders of both warring factions -- strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli's UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj -- are also expected at what is the first such gathering since 2018.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:42 am

Israel building underground defense system on Lebanon border

Israel building underground defense system on Lebanon borderIsrael's military said it began construction of an underground defense system Sunday along its northern frontier with Lebanon to protect against cross-border tunnels. The infrastructure project will identify underground acoustic and seismic activity indicating tunnel digging, accompanied other defensive measures, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman. Israel destroyed a series of what it said were attack tunnels last year, dug under the border by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:41 am

Erdogan demands stand against 'blood and chaos' in Libya

Erdogan demands stand against 'blood and chaos' in LibyaTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community to stand against “the merchants of blood and chaos” as he headed Sunday to a Berlin summit seeking to resolve the Libya conflict. Erdogan supports the U.N.-backed administration in Tripoli led by Fayez Sarraj and sent troops to Libya earlier this month to help them in their battle with eastern-based forces led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:28 am

Iran says it is preparing for satellite launch

Iran says it is preparing  for satellite launchIran said Sunday that two newly constructed satellites have passed pre-launch tests and will be transported to the nation's space center for eventual launch, without elaborating. Iran has not said when it will launch the satellites, but often coordinates its launches with national holidays. Iran's largely state-run media say the 90-kilogram (200-pound) Zafar satellites each have four high-resolution color cameras and will monitor and transmit data on natural resources as well as agricultural and environmental developments.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:23 am

Yemen missile, drone attack kills at least 70 soldiers

Yemen missile, drone attack kills at least 70 soldiersAt least 70 Yemeni soldiers have been killed in missile and drone attacks blamed on Huthi rebels, on a mosque in the central province of Marib, medical and military sources said Sunday. Saturday's strike follows months of relative calm in the war between the Iran-backed Huthis and Yemen's internationally recognised government which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition. The Huthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in Marib -- about 170 kilometres (105 miles) east of the capital Sanaa -- during evening prayers, military sources told AFP.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 8:16 am

Germany hosts Libya summit in bid to curb military meddling

Germany hosts Libya summit in bid to curb military meddlingGermany is bringing together the key players in Libya’s long-running civil war in a bid to curb foreign military meddling, solidify a cease-fire and help relaunch a political process to determine the North African nation’s future. Chancellor Angela Merkel invited leaders from 12 countries as well as the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League to Sunday’s summit at the chancellery in Berlin. Germany’s months-long diplomatic drive seeks to bolster efforts to stop the fighting in Libya by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame.




Posted on 19 January 2020 | 7:47 am

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