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Austrian conservative leader confident of gov't by Christmas

December 14, 2017 05:54 AM

BERLIN (AP) — Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz says he's optimistic he can wrap up coalition talks with the right-wing Freedom Party and form a new government before Christmas.

Kurz said after updating President Alexander Van der Bellen on Thursday that "we are in the home stretch of the negotiations." He stressed the importance of a "clear pro-European direction."

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The 31-year-old Kurz is foreign minister in the outgoing government under Chancellor Christian Kern, a center-left Social Democrat. He is set to become Europe's youngest leader after his center-right People's Party finished first in Austria's Oct. 15 election.

Both Kurz's center-right People's Party and the nationalist Freedom Party campaigned on the need for tougher immigration controls, quick deportations of asylum-seekers whose requests are denied and a crackdown on radical Islam.

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(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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