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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

May 23, 2014

TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1115 GMT

UKRAINE

MOSCOW — Russia on Friday accused the West of triggering the Ukrainian crisis by its “megalomania,” as fighting continued in Ukraine’s east between pro-Russia insurgents and government forces two days before a presidential election. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged the West to reach a settlement based on mutual interests. By Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 430 words, photos. UPCOMING: Recast to lead on Ukraine fighting, election by 1300 GMT.

RUSSIA-IRAN

MOSCOW — Iran’s defense minister has invited his Russian counterpart to visit Tehran, saying it would send a “clear message to the Americans.” Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu welcomed Iran’s Hossein Dehqan to discuss closer cooperation and regional security, at a time when Russia’s ties with the West have plummeted to the lowest level since the Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine. SENT: 130 words.

TURKEY-PROTEST

ANKARA, Turkey — Two people have died from injuries suffered in violent clashes between police and protesters in Istanbul, an official said Friday. Police fought with more than a dozen youths who hurled stones and firebombs on Thursday. One man — described as a bystander and not a demonstrator — was shot and died in a hospital hours later. By Suzan Fraser. SENT: 180 words, photos.

BRITAIN-RICHARD III

LONDON — In the battle royal over Richard III’s bones, Britain’s High Court has given the victory to Leicester. The court ruled Friday that the 15th-century monarch should be buried in the city in central England where his skeleton was found under a parking lot in 2012. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 320 words, photos.

FRANCE-DEFENSE-CUTS

PARIS — A military official says the chiefs of France’s armed forces have jointly threatened to resign over budget cuts planned by President Francois Hollande’s debt-saddled government. France’s military leaders fear planned new spending cuts — beyond those approved in a five-year defense budget in December — could hamper France’s ability to conduct operations in places like Mali, Central African Republic and beyond that have drawn praise of many allies. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 140 words.

DENMARK-COCAINE-BUST

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish police say they have charged three men with the attempted smuggling and distribution of 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of cocaine in Denmark, worth at least 43.5 million kroner ($8 million), in an operation with U.S. agents. Police spokesman Ole Madsen says the suspects were German, Colombian and Danish, but did not provide more information on their identities. SENT: 130 words.

GERMANY-EICHMANN

BERLIN — With the words of the Kaddish and a sprinkle of earth over his remains, the Israeli official who interrogated Adolf Eichmann has been buried in Berlin, not far from the house where the Nazi who helped organize the Holocaust outlined his genocidal plans in 1942. The choice of Avner Less’ burial place was coincidence, but his son Alon Less says his father would have been “quite pleased” at the irony. SENT: 130 words.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — A closely watched survey shows that German business confidence has dipped, with companies less optimistic about both their current situation and the outlook for the next six months. The Ifo institute said Friday that its confidence index — a key indicator for Europe’s biggest economy — slipped to 110.4 points this month from 111.2 in April. That’s a slightly bigger decline than the dip to 110.9 that economists had predicted. SENT: 120 words.

BRITAIN-BARCLAYS FINE

LONDON — Barclays Bank has been fined by British regulators for management failings that allowed an employee to make inappropriate trades in the gold market. The Financial Conduct Authority imposed a 26 million pound ($43.7 million) fine on Friday.

GREECE-RATINGS UPGRADE

ATHENS, Greece — Fitch ratings agency has upgraded Greece’s sovereign debt rating by one notch, citing the country’s improved deficit figures. Although still deep in junk status, Friday’s upgrade on Greek bonds, from B- to B, was a boost for the country that has been struggling through a devastating financial crisis for the past four years. SENT: 120 words.

SPAIN-RATINGS UPGRADE

MADRID — Standard & Poor’s rating agency has upgraded Spain’s sovereign credit grade a notch, the third agency to do so in recent months and a further sign the country is turning the corner after five years of economic turmoil. The agency raised the grade to BBB from BBB-, citing improved economic prospects and praising the conservative government’s structural and labor reforms since 2010. SENT: 140 words.

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