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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

June 24, 2013

TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE at 1120 GMT

NSA-SURVEILLANCE-SNOWDEN

MOSCOW— A plane took off from Moscow Monday headed for Cuba, but the seat booked by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden was empty, and there was no sign of him elsewhere on board. An Aeroflot representative who wouldn’t give her name told The Associated Press that Snowden wasn’t on flight SU150 to Havana. AP reporters on the flight couldn’t him. The Interfax news agency also quoted an unidentified Russian security source in Moscow as saying that Snowden wasn’t on the plane. By MAX SEDDON

ITALY-BERLUSCONI TRIAL

MILAN — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi faced a verdict Monday in his sex-for-hire trial, with prosecutors seeking to end his two-decade political career by sending him to prison and banning him from public office for life. Berlusconi, 76, is charged with paying an underage Moroccan teen for sex and then trying to cover it up with phone calls to Milan police officials when she was picked up for alleged theft. Berlusconi and the woman deny having had sex with each other. By Colleen Barry.

LUXEMBOURG — Germany and other European Union nations sounded a conciliatory note on Monday to keep the prospect of talks with Turkey on EU membership alive despite the protests that have rocked the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Germany blocked the next step in membership talks last week, but German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ahead of Monday’s EU foreign ministers meeting that “we should not let the dialogue be interrupted or weakened.” By Raf Casert.

TURKEY-PROTESTS

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s prime minister has brushed off criticism by human rights groups and some European countries, insisting police officers have displayed “legendary heroism” in quelling weeks of anti-government protests. Addressing police academy graduates at a ceremony in Ankara Monday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it was protesters — not police — that were violent, and praised the security forces for showing restraint.

ALBANIA-ELECTIONS

TIRANA, Albania — Vote counting has begun a day after Albania’s general election, which was marred by gunfire at a polling station which left one man dead and two others wounded. Initial returns indicated a narrow lead for the opposition Socialist Party-led coalition of Edi Rama, who is running against Prime Minister Sali Berisha of the Democratic party. By Llazar Semini.

POLAND-US-NAZI-COMMANDER

CHLANIOW, Poland — Henryka Jablonska’s eyes well up as she recalls the moment more than six decades ago when a man in a dark uniform aimed a submachine gun at her. He pulled the trigger but the weapon wouldn’t fire. She lived, but 44 fellow villagers were killed when troops of the Nazi SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion marched into this Polish farming community in July 1944 to exact revenge for an attack by resistance fighters that killed their German commander. By Monika Scislowska.

BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL

GERMANY-KABEL DEUTSCHLAND-VODAFONE

LONDON — Britain’s Vodafone PLC has launched a takeover bid for Germany’s biggest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland, as part of its push to dominate media services in its biggest market. Vodafone, a British cellphone company with wide international interests, confirmed Monday it will offer 87 euros per share for Kabel Deutschland. The deal values the German company at 7.7 billion euros ($10.2 billion), but when including 3 billion euros in net debt, the total value is 10.7 billion euros. By Danica Kirka.

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WORLD MARKETS

LONDON — Global stock markets reeled Monday, with Shanghai’s index enduring its biggest loss in four years, after an increase in China’s commercial lending rates sparked fears about the state of the world’s second-largest economy. Analysts say the spike in the country’s interbank lending rate was part of an effort to curb the high level of off-balance-sheet lending in China that could threaten the country’s financial stability. By Carlo Piovano and Pamela Sampson.

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GERMANY-ECONOMY

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s Ifo index of business sentiment rose slightly in June, suggesting the eurozone’s largest economy remains on track for a return to stronger growth after a weak stretch. The closely-watched index came in Monday at 105.9 points, up from 105.7 the month before and in line with analysts’ expectations. By David McHugh.

SPAIN-TELEFONICA-IRELAND

MADRID — Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica says it has sold its Irish division, 02, to Hutchison Whampoa in a bid to reduce debt. In a statement Monday, Telefonica SA says it sold the 100 percent stake to Hutchison Whampoa’s Irish subsidiary, Three Ireland, for 850 million euros ($1.12 billion).

SPORTS

TEN--WIMBLEDON

LONDON — Ten years after his first Wimbledon championship, Roger Federer opens his bid for an eighth title at the All England Club with a Center Court match against Victor Hanescu. Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova are also in action on Day 1 of the grass-court Grand Slam. By Stephen Wilson. Moved, will be updated.

SOC--BAYERN-GUARDIOLA

MUNICH — Pep Guardiola says he is looking forward to the challenge of coaching Bayern Munich after his “wonderful” time at Barcelona. Speaking in German for his first news conference as coach of the German and European champions, Guardiola says he decided to join Bayern because of the club’s players, management and history. Moved, will be updated. By Ciaran Fahey.

SOC--U20 WCUP

ISTANBUL— Spain and France have a chance to qualify for the knockout stage of the Under-20 World Cup when they take on Ghana and the United States respectively. Other matches feature Nigeria against Cuba and Portugal against South Korea. By 1800 GMT. By Michael Casey.

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