BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1210 GMT
DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine — Rebel fighters, many of them Cossacks, roamed the streets of Debaltseve on Thursday, a day after Ukrainian forces began withdrawing from the besieged town. The mood was celebratory, with fighters laughing, hugging each other and posing for photos. By Peter Leonard. SENT: 400 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words by 1300 GMT.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece has requested a six-month extension in its rescue loan agreement — but not the associated budget measures — in a last-moment bid to break a deadlock with European creditors over its bailout program and end uncertainty over its future in the euro. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the 19 eurozone finance ministers whose meetings he heads would convene in Brussels on Friday, four days after the latest talks on the Greek bailout collapsed. SENT: 390 words, photos.
PARIS — Faced with yet another revolt from a group of Socialists over how to fix France’s ailing economy, the French prime minister is being forced to defend his pro-business policies to lawmakers from his own party. Though Manuel Valls will probably win Thursday’s showdown vote on a censure motion, at stake is the question of whether Socialism — and France — should evolve to meet Europe’s economic expectations. By Sylvie Corbet. SENT: 600 words, photos. UPCOMING: Vote at 1700 GMT, results an hour later.
VIENNA — Diplomats say that the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency is set to report little progress in its attempts to probe allegations that Iran worked on nuclear arms. Two diplomats say the agency’s restricted report will likely be released to the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA’s 35 board member nations Thursday. They demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the report’s contents. By George Jahn. SENT: 130 words.
WARSAW, Poland — Hundreds of farmers are marching in Warsaw to demand government compensation for crops lost to wild boar and for profits reduced by Russia’s embargo against some Polish meat and dairy products. With sirens and banners, they are walking Thursday from the Parliament building to the office of Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, where they plan to put up tents — without permission — and pressure for negotiations. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 250 words, photos by 1400 GMT.
MADRID — The wild and colorful costumes and masquerades that precede the Christian season of Lent have created popular festival traditions in Spain and Portugal. One of Portugal’s most famous Carnival events takes place in the northcentral town of Lazarin, with its pagan ‘careto’ ritual of young men in colored woolen quilts donning brass, leather or wooden masks as they dance and chase people — especially young women — through the streets, trying to scare them by making lots of noise and jingling bells. SENT: 310 words, photos.