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This is BBC World News Today.
I'm Ben Bland.
Our top stories...
Brexit negotiations are moving on.
EU leaders give the green light
for talks to proceed to phase two
but warn the next stage
will be even tougher.
We are able to conclude that
sufficient progress has been made.
Now it's up to us to draft
the withdrawal agreement together
with our British friends.
The United States and North Korea
trade barbs at a sitting of the UN
Security Council in New York,
as Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson suggests
Washington could be open
to dialogue with Pyongyang.
Austria is poised to become
the only western country
in Europe with a far-right
party in government.
It's understood Sebastian Kurz's
Freedom Party is on the brink
of reaching a coalition deal.
Save the date - Prince Harry
and his bride-to-be Meghan Markle
will wed at Windsor Castle
on the 19th of May.
Hello and welcome
to World News Today.
We start with Brexit and it's been
a big day for the future
of the United Kingdom,
as it continues the process
of removing itself
from the European Union.
The 27 other EU leaders have
officially given the green
light for a change in gear,
from purely divorce
talks to negotiating
the relationship to come.
The UK hopes that will include
a generous trade deal in due course.
The British Prime
Minister Theresa May
has hailed the progress
as an "important step" forward.
But she still faces differences
of opinion in her own government
and suffered an embarrassing House
of Commons defeat on Brexit
earlier this week.
Damian Gramatticas has more.
On a big day for the EU,
a barrage of questions.
Last night, these leaders gave
Theresa May a round of applause.
Not very enthusiastically,
but it was well-deserved.
Angela Merkel lead that gesture,
appreciative after Mrs May told EU
leaders she wants a smooth Brexit.
It's what they want, too.
The one leader who isn't
here is Theresa May herself,
the leader for whom this matters
more than any other,
getting the green light
in the Brexit process,
to move to the next stage.
And so, the looming question -
exactly what does the UK want future
ties with the EU to look like?
I think the first big step
is for the United Kingdom to say
very clearly what it wants
in clear terms.
I think if this happens in the next
few weeks we can start in earnest
and by March we will have a very
clear European position.
First, the EU 27 agreed,
as expected, sufficient
progress has been made.
Then the discussions turned
to the EU's terms for phase
two of the negotiations
and a new set of guidelines.
They say talks will only move
on if all commitments the UK has
made so far are respected in full -
so no backtracking on the financial
and citizens' deals.
And for a transition,
the EU's terms are, the UK
will continue to participate
in the customs union and single
market - so little change -
but the UK will not have a part
in EU decision-making and will have
to accept all the same rules
as everyone else including any
new EU regulations and be bound
by the European Court of Justice.
As for the framework
for future relations,
it is now time for internal
EU 27 preparations and
contact with the UK.
To get more clarity on their vision.
As for what the UK wants most
of all, in-depth discussions
about the future ties,
they will have to wait until March,
EU leaders said, indicating
it is the EU who is firmly
in control of the Brexit process.
My colleague Christian Fraser is in
Brussels for the summit and gave us
this assessment of the talks finally
came to a conclusion.
I think what we take away from this
summit is that the EU side really
does want to deal with Theresa May.
They see her as their best
chance for a smooth Brexit
and also they think that,
with her, they can ensure
that there aren't the same sort
of hiccups that we might have seen
over the course of the last
eight or nine months.
Let's talk to Damian
correspondent, about that.
Is that a broad assessment
of where we're at,
that they see Theresa May
as their best chance?
Well, I think they want a stable
Prime Minister in the UK
who can make difficult compromises
for the UK, because that is going
to continue to happen,
and who can deliver those.
So, that is crucial.
There was a real sort
of audible sigh of relief
in this building today.
And it's interesting - the end
of this year is actually quite
a good point to take stock,
because we had the triggering
of Article 50 at the beginning
of the year.
All sorts of confusion
about what was going to happen.
As you said, real down
points when it looked
like everything might fall apart,
and they're back on track
and I think that's what
matters to the Europeans.
What do you make of where
we're at now in terms
of the future relationship?
Because Theresa May's not
spelt out much of that,
but then perhaps that's not a bad
strategy, because if you look at how
she's dealt with the first phase,
she didn't spell much of that
out to her own side, either.
Well, what I can say, I think,
is that the EU side,
the messages they've put out
is that they find that quite
frustrating, actually, I think,
because they want to know more -
they want to engage in this
and I think they feel
that the UK side hasn't yet.
We know the UK Cabinet hasn't yet
engaged fully with discussing
what the future will look
like and the EU feeling, I think,
certainly, is that these are really
that have got to be grappled with
and that the earlier
the UK does that, the better,
because then the EU can engage
with what the UK wants
and that's what we're
going to start to see next year.
Having said that, they have
all been prime ministers,
Jean-Claude Juncker included.
Some of them lead minority
governments, some of them
are at the head of weak coalitions.
They know how difficult it is to be
a Prime Minister
and they're painfully
aware of the maths back in the UK.
They are, and I think
that's an important point,
actually, to make.
It's an important point to remember
in that there's a lot of sort
of concern in the UK,
I think, watching the progress
of legislation through Parliament.
Here, that is viewed as a normal,
natural part of this process.
Every parliament in Europe
is going to have to look at
what happens in this process,
what comes out at the end
of it, and approve it.
So, they think it's fine that the UK
is doing the same thing.
But actually, I think
the EU side see that...
They don't see that as in any way,
I think, weakening Theresa May.
In a way, I think they'd be glad
of the fact that the parliament
will approve something because,
as I say, they want a sort of
durable outcome from this
that works all round,
however hard it is to get to that.
So, in the New Year,
they move on to the next
part of negotiation.
One thing we should just say
about the withdrawal process.
They are saying in the document
that they released today
that they expect
the withdrawal agreement
to be put into a legal text.
They want it to be legally binding.
And there is still a little bit
of work to finish on that,
particularly when it comes
to citizens' rights.
They're hoping that that can be done
in parallel with the talks
about the future negotiation.
But that is the situation
here in Brussels
at the end of this EU summit.
Christian Fraser there at the summit
The US Secretary of State says
North Korea needs to show
a "sustained cessation
of threatening behaviour" before
meaningful talks can begin.
Rex Tillerson was speaking
at a meeting of the UN
Security Council in New York.
Mr Tillerson also questioned
the commitment of Moscow,
and especially Beijing,
in trying to reign in the secretive
state's nuclear and ballistic
There's Chinese crude oil flows
to North Korean refineries.
The United States questions China's
commitment to solving an issue that
has serious implications
for the security of its own citizens
Recently, the North Korean regime
has sought to portray UN sanctions
as harmful to women and children,
but this is a regime that
hypocritically spends billions
on nuclear and ballistic missile
programmes while its own people
suffer great poverty.
The regime could feed and care
for women, children and ordinary
people of North Korea if it chose
the welfare of its people over
Let's speak to the BBC's
Nada Tawfik who is in New York.
It's interesting, a bit of a change
in approach from Mr Tillerson,
falling into line with the White
House approach to how it deals with
Yes, absolutely. Many
may remember that just on Tuesday
when Rex Tillerson was addressing an
audience at a think tank event on
North Korea. He said the US was
ready to enter into talks without
preconditions. The White House
quickly came out and denied that,
saying the US policy had not changed
at all and so to we saw Rex
Tillerson toughening his stands
there, saying North Korea had to
earn its rights to get to the
negotiating table and they really
had to show a commitment walking
back its nuclear programme before
those talks could get under way.
It's interesting because it really
echoes a lot of what the US' allies
have said. For example, the Japanese
Foreign Minister, who presided over
this high-level meeting, he said
that we shouldn't be conducting
dialogue for this sort two Zec
dialogue, that these resolutions are
very clear, that North Korea has to
end its programme and there should
be no compromise on that front.
did North Korea responded?
was a rare appearance that we got
from North Korea's ambassador and he
said that the nuclear programme was
a self defensive measure to protect
against the United States. He said
if anyone was to blame it was the
US, that North Korea was a
peace-loving country, it was a
responsible nuclear power and that
as long as North Korea's rights were
not infringed upon, no state should
be worried about them using their
arsenal. Rex Tillerson hit back at
that saying that the only country
responsible and who held the
solution to this issue was North
Korea itself as the aggressor.
did all of this go down with the
other members of the Security
Well, the Europeans
kind of endorsed this maximum
pressure along with the diplomacy
approach, saying it was important
that North Korea, that sanctions
were implemented and pressure was
put on North Korea so they could
come to the negotiating table.
Russia and China on the other hand,
again, they feel that North Korea
needs to abide by its obligations
under the security council
resolutions, but they did show
concern about the increased rhetoric
we're seeing in the region, saying
it is unhelpful and could lead to
unintended consequences if there's
any miscalculation that goes
forward. They reiterated their call,
this proposal that Russia and China
have put out, that says the US and
Japan and South Korea should cease
action in the region in return for
North Korea stopping their
programme. They called for that as a
possible resolution to this issue.
Over to Austria where a coalition
deal between the conservative
People's Party and the far-right
Freedom Party looks set
to be agreed tonight.
Sebastian Kurz's People's Party won
October's parliamentary election
with a hard line on immigration
similar to the Freedom Party's
which came third in the vote.
The two parties are
talking this evening.
If a coalition deal is struck,
then Austria would become the only
western European country
with a far-right
party in government.
Bethany Bell joined us live from
Vienna. Any update?
Yes, we've been
told a number of times that a deal
was extremely close. The parties are
still negotiating at this moment. It
looks as though the leader of the
Austrian conservatives is poised to
become Europe's's youngest leader,
just 31 years old, in coalition with
the far right Freedom Party, which
is quite controversial. This is a
party that has been in power before,
unlike many far right populist
roots, it translated its success at
the ballot box into real power. If
they do agree, this agreement is
tonight as they are widely expected
to do, it will mean a centre right,
far right government here in
It's interesting because
the Freedom Party has been in
government in Austria before and
that time it provoked the
unprecedented step of the rest of
the EU member states imposing
sanctions against Austria.
was here back in the year 2000 when
the Freedom Party first came into a
coalition government then. Austria
has just joined the EU a few years
before. The EU imposed diplomatic
sanctions for a first two short
time, temporary ones that were
eventually lifted. There was an
enormous outcry at the far right
being in power. That's much more
unlikely at this time. Austria has
changed, Europe has changed, there
are many more nationalist populist
parties around than there were back
then in terms that we have parties
like the AFD. Many Austrians are
wondering whether the Freedom Party
has changed, too, or whether it has
helped in this trend of dragging
Europe to the right.
you very much.
Zimbabwe's ruling party has
endorsed the new president,
as their leader and candidate in
next year's presidential elections.
Delegates from the Zanu-PF party
are holding an extraordinary
session, for the first time
since Robert Mugabe
stepped down last month.
Shingai Nyoka reports from Harare.
A triumphant entry to his first
Congress as party leader.
But the decision to confirm
was never going to be contested.
The 6,000 delegates
were carefully selected
to ensure the unanimous endorsement.
Now, Mr Mnangagwa can begin
to rebuild a party fractured
in preparation for elections
expected in less than a year.
I stand before you, therefore,
as the president of a united,
The conciliatory speech
is a departure from
the fire-brand nationalist rhetoric
of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe,
who was noticeably absent
from the gathering.
This extraordinary Congress had
been planned months ago
as a platform to sideline
and elevate Grace Mugabe
to the vice presidency.
But, in a twist of fate,
the tables have turned
and the Congress has voted to expel
Grace Mugabe from the party
and recall Mr Mugabe,
a figure who's been central
here for the last 40 years.
The new administration faces
the primary challenge
of fixing the national economy
and also bringing confidence
into its human rights record,
addressing ills of the past
as well as trying to make sure
that the free and fair elections
are scheduled in 2018.
And it'll face further challenges
in relation to their ability
to prove to the Zimbabwean people
that they are not going
to be similar
to the previous government
of Robert Mugabe.
And how quickly the party
has moved on from him.
Within the month, new songs have
to the former leader.
And Zanu-PF's party regalia
now has a new face.
But critics say the intolerance
that marked the former leader's rule
Three former senior party members
who were expelled for supporting
Grace Mugabe were today arrested
and charged with criminal nuisance
for wearing the new regalia
without the party's permission.
Mr Mnangagwa told lawyers
that the time has come
Mr Mnangagwa told loyalists
that the time has come
to repair the party,
but there's no sign
of a reconciliation yet
with his predecessor.
Mr Mugabe, his wife and family
are in the far east
on an annual holiday.
Photos appear to show
the 93-year-old leader
leaving a Singapore hospital
and looking remarkably relaxed.
His future role in Zimbabwean
politics is unclear.
The figure that once dominated this
party has gone
and a new imposing figure
has been installed in his place.
The Roman Catholic Church
in Australia has rejected the idea
that priests should report sexual
abuse disclosed to
them in confession.
It was a key recommendation
of a five-year Australian inquiry
into child sex abuse
at public institutions.
The church is among institutions
accused of multiple and persistent
failings to keep children safe
from sexual abuse.
The Archbishop of Melbourne has
warned that any priest who breaks
the seal of the confessional
will be excommunicated.
From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.
The report has delved into one
of the most shameful episodes
in modern Australian history.
For years, the vulnerable
were preyed upon by paedophiles
while invariably those in charge
looked the other way
and did nothing.
The Royal Commission says tens
of thousands of children were abused
in Australian institutions over
the past decades.
Most of the perpetrators
were members of the clergy
The Prime Minister,
Malcolm Turnbull, says the scale
of the abuse is a national tragedy.
What the commission has done has
exposed a national tragedy,
it's an outstanding exercise in love
and I thank the commissioners
and those who had the courage
to tell their stories.
For five years investigators
heard agonising stories
of rape and sexual assault.
Some of those tortured children
would later kill themselves,
while others would endure the trauma
for the rest of their lives.
It really happened
and we are believed now
around the world because,
as adults, we were talking
about our childhood
and for a lot of us,
so, so many of us, it was so hard.
The commission has called
for Australia's child protection
policies to be overhauled.
Those six commissioners have done
this country proud, really.
I think everybody here,
wouldn't you all agree?
And, you know, they took
the shame and stigma
from our hearts and they carried it
for the last five years.
The head of the Anglican Church
in Australia has said sorry
for its shameful handling
of many of the abuse allegations.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church
said a major national social
ill had to be remedied.
More than 2,500 cases of alleged
child abuse have been referred
to Australian police,
and so far 230 criminal
prosecutions have started.
While Australia failed
so spectacularly to protect
its children in the past,
the hope is future generations
will never be exposed to such
monstrous abuse again.
Let's take a look at some of
the other stories making the news.
Police in the Netherlands have shot
and wounded a man who was armed
with a knife in the country's main
airport, Schipol, just
The main entrance to
the airport was evacuated -
but has now re-opened.
The man is in custody.
There were no reports
of other injuries.
Four Palestinians have been
killed and 150 wounded
in clashes with the Israeli army.
Palestinian sources say most
of the casualties occurred
near the Gaza border where protests
have been fiercest against
President Trump's decision
to recognise Jerusalem
as the capital of Israel.
The Oxford English Dictionary
has chosen "youthquake"
as its word of the year.
The word - first used in the 1960s -
is defined as a "significant
or social change arising
from the actions or influence
of young people".
It's been used more recently
in relation to the effect of young
voters on politics in Britain,
France and New Zealand.
If you have your diary to hand,
you may want to note down
Saturday 19th of May, 2018.
That is the date that's been set
for the royal wedding
of Prince Harry and his fiancee,
actress Meghan Markle.
They will marry in St George's
Chapel at Windsor Castle.
It's the same day as the football
cup final in England.
The pair announced their
engagement last month.
We put it to the BBC's Royal
Correspondent Nicholas Witchell that
interest would be even greater
because Ms Markle is an American.
Well, that's absolutely right, yes.
There will be, I'm sure,
a great deal of attention
from around the world,
as there always is,
to the British Royal family,
but particularly, of course,
on this occasion,
from the United States of America.
And the date, yes -
Saturday the 19th of May.
Now, the choice of
a Saturday is unusual
but certainly not unprecedented
for a royal wedding.
There have been royal weddings
on Saturdays before
and I'm quite sure that
the calculation has been
that because there is to be no
public holiday in the United Kingdom
for this royal wedding,
as there was for William and Kate's,
the fact that it's being staged
on a Saturday
will give those
who are so minded
an opportunity to go out to Windsor,
not far from London,
to be part of the celebration
as the couple have said
that they wish to be the case.
I'm sure that, although the wedding,
of course, itself,
is in the chapel
within Windsor Castle,
there'll be a carriage procession,
I imagine, through the town,
so people will be able to join in.
The other, as you mentioned,
is that Saturday 19th of May
is the date of
one of the biggest sporting events,
certainly in England -
the FA Cup final.
Now, Prince William is president
of the Football Association.
He would normally
attend the cup final.
Somehow, on this occasion,
I suspect he's going
to have to give it a miss.
Now to Germany, where
the SDP has agreed
to enter exploratory talks
on forming a coalition government
with Chancellor Angela
The move had been
recommended by SPD leader
Martin Schulz in an attempt to end
the political uncertainty
since elections in September.
Mr Schulz said the talks should
begin in January and last no
more than two weeks.
The SPD has been Mrs Merkel's junior
coalition partner since 2013,
but in September suffered its worst
election result since World War II.
The US space agency Nasa says it's
discovered an eighth
planet circling a distant sun -
making it the first solar system
to have the same number
of planets as our own.
The eight orbit a star
known as Kepler-90.
Paul Rincon reports.
Astronomers have discovered more
than 3,000 planets circling other
stars but very few of these distant
planetary systems resemble our own.
Now a team using the Kepler
space telescope has
confirmed the existence of eight
planets around a single star.
Seven of these were already known,
but experts trained
a software programme
to recognise known planets.
The programme then searched
through raw data and identified
a previously unknown world.
The new planet we found, Kepler-90i,
is the smallest of the bunch
and orbits just outside
the inner two planets.
The new planet is small enough
that we think it is probably rocky
and does not have a thick
atmosphere, the surface
is likely scorching hot.
We calculated that it probably has
an average temperature
of about 800 Fahrenheit.
We've been able to task computers
to go and look into data to find
things people didn't spot or perhaps
didn't have time to spot.
So providing good candidates
for worlds hidden within the Kepler
data, machines can then pick up
the slack and actually go
and discover these worlds.
The distant planetary system
is ordered like our own,
with the small worlds nearest
the star and the bigger
planets further away.
But all the planets are pushed much
further in towards their parent
star, which is known as Kepler-90.
This means they're probably far too
hot for life as we know it,
but machine learning could be used
to find the signatures
of Earth-sized worlds
elsewhere in the cosmos.
That could lead to ground-breaking
discoveries in the search
for life in the universe.
Just time before we go
to show you these pictures
from Central Borneo
where a group of eight
Orangutans has just been
released back into the wild.
Seven of the group were males,
which meant they had to be sedated
and transported by helicopter.
Orangutans are considered
by the World Wildlife Fund.
Thanks for watching.
Thanks for watching.