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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

February 15, 2014

TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1210 GMT

SYRIA-PEACE TALKS

GENEVA — U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi ended direct talks between the Syrian government and opposition Saturday without finding a way of breaking the impasse in peace talks. The impasse has left the future of the negotiating process in doubt. SENT: 300 words, photos.

UKRAINE-PROTESTS

KIEV, Ukraine — A top Ukrainian opposition leader says protesters are ready to vacate the Kiev City Hall that has been occupied by demonstrators for nearly three months — if the government drops all charges against the demonstrators. This week, the last of the 234 protesters were released from jail as part of an amnesty. The amnesty law also calls for the opposition to vacate seized government buildings in Kiev and elsewhere in Ukraine. SENT: 120 words, photos.

AP Photos XEL108-0214141558.

ITALY-POLITICS

ROME — Italy’s president is consulting with political party leaders to determine if Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi has enough support to form a new government. Giorgio Napolitano was in the second day of consultations Saturday, which will include meeting Silvio Berlusconi who remains the influential head of the Forza Italia party despite losing his Senate seat due to a tax fraud conviction. SENT: 130 words, photos.

TURKEY-PARLIAMENT

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s parliament has approved a bill that would tighten the government’s grip on a judicial body after a tense, all-night session that saw two legislators injured in a brawl. The legislation, which would give the Justice Ministry increased control over a council which appoints and oversees judges and prosecutors, was endorsed Saturday. SENT: 130 words, photos.

GREECE-EARTHQUAKE

ATHENS, Greece — A strong earthquake, of 4.6 magnitude, has hit the western Greek island of Kephalonia. No damage has been reported. The tremor occurred at 9:31 a.m. Saturday at sea, west of the island, 25 kilometers (16 miles) below the sea surface, some 300 kilometers west of the capital Athens, the Institute of Geodynamics at Athens University reports SENT 130 words.

RUSSIA-AFGHAN-WAR

MOSCOW — Russia’s defense minister has praised veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan as “true patriots” on the 25th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal. Sergei Shoigu said in a statement marking Saturday’s anniversary that Soviet soldiers’ heroism in the war was part “of the best combat traditions of the Motherland.” He added that the experience has proven useful for counter-terrorism and peacekeeping duties. SENT: 130 words.

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