Australian state sacks city mayor and council
MELBOURNE • An Australian state government has taken the extraordinary step of sacking the "dysfunctional" council and high-profile mayor of Victoria's largest regional city, Geelong.
Victoria's Local Government Minister, Ms Natalie Hutchins, tabled a motion in State Parliament yesterday to dismiss Geelong's mayor, Mr Darryn Lyons, and his entire council.
The legislation, which will effectively leave the 200,000-people city without an elected local government until October 2020, follows an inquiry that found the council had failed to provide "good government" and had a culture of bullying and harassment.
Last-ditch talks to form government in Spain
MADRID • Spain's King will hold another round of talks with the country's political parties in a last-ditch bid to get them to form a coalition and avoid fresh elections, the royal palace said yesterday.
King Felipe VI will meet separately on April 25-26 with the leaders of parties that won seats in Parliament at an inconclusive December general election, the palace said in a statement.
If the parties are unable to propose a candidate for a prime minister with enough support to pass a vote of confidence in Parliament, he will dissolve the assembly and call fresh elections, it added.
First Nato-Russia formal meeting in two years
BRUSSELS • Nato envoys will hold their first formal meeting with Russia in almost two years on April 20, the Western alliance said yesterday, with the crisis in Ukraine, reducing military risks and Afghanistan on the agenda.
The forum bringing together Russia and its former Cold War adversary Nato was never officially suspended, but met last in June 2014 as Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula strained ties.
Both sides have now agreed to hold talks at ambassador level in Brussels in the Nato-Russia Council. While the West and Russia remain at odds over Ukraine, the meeting is a sign of willingness to improve diplomatic relations that could help avoid any accidental clashes in the region.