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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

March 31, 2014

TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1100 GMT

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Court of Justice has ordered a temporary halt to Japan’s Antarctic whaling program, ruling that it is not for scientific purposes as the Japanese had claimed. Australia had sued Japan at the U.N.’s highest court for resolving disputes between nations in hopes of ending whaling in the Southern Ocean. By Toby Sterling. SENT: 480 words, photos.

UKRAINE

SIMFEROPOL, Crimea — On a surprise visit Monday to Crimea, Russia’s prime minister promised to quickly pour funds into the newly annexed peninsula so residents see positive changes after the Russian takeover. Dmitry Medvedev, who led a delegation of Cabinet ministers to Crimea, pledged that Russia will quickly boost salaries and pensions there and pour in resources to improve education, health care and local infrastructure. By Laura Mills. SENT: 430 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words by 1200 GMT.

FRANCE-ROOTING OUT TERRORISM

PARIS — To stop the stream of French youths pursuing jihad in Syria, France is preparing to try to tackle terrorism before it starts, by involving schools, parents and local Muslim leaders. This is part of a still-confidential plan prompted by fears that young radicals who travel to Syria could return home with the skills and motivation to carry out attacks — a Europe-wide concern. French officials say the plan will be made public soon. By Jamey Keaten and Elaine Ganley. UPCOMING: 950 words, photos by 1200 GMT.

TURKEY-ELECTIONS

ANKARA, Turkey — Despite allegations of corruption and concerns about authoritarianism, Turkey’s local elections have given Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan momentum that could see him start a campaign to become the country’s first directly elected president. Erdogan’s ruling party swept municipal elections on Sunday, gaining 45.5 percent of the votes and retaining the key city of Istanbul. SENT: 130 words.

CZECH-EXPLOSION

PRAGUE — Czech investigators say the explosion that killed the ambassador at the Palestinian Embassy complex in Prague was not caused by a booby-trapped safe as previously believed. Police said Monday that their investigation has revealed that the blast that killed Ambassador Jamal al-Jamal on Jan. 1 did not occur inside the safe and no explosive device was part of the safe.

FRANCE-POLITICS

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande is preparing a probable shake-up of his unpopular government after his Socialist Party suffered losses in nationwide municipal elections. Disappointment with the Socialists’ handling of the economy drove many voters to conservative or anti-immigrant far-right candidates. SENT: 130 words, photos.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS — Inflation across the 18-country eurozone fell for the third consecutive month to a new low of 0.5 percent in March, a development likely to add pressure on the European Central Bank to ease its monetary policies. The preliminary estimate published Monday by the European Union’s statistics agency was down from February’s annual rate of 0.7 percent. Analysts were forecasting a milder drop to 0.6 percent. By Juergen Baetz. SENT: 510 words, photos.

EUROPE-CHINA

BRUSSELS — China’s president is meeting with the top officials of the European Union to discuss the two sides’ close business ties and their wider diplomatic relations. Xi Jinping on Monday became the first Chinese leader to visit the headquarters of the 28-country EU in Brussels. SENT: 140 words, photos.

GERMANY-SYRIA-RADICALS

BERLIN — German authorities have arrested three people in a series of raids on suspected supporters of a hard-line Islamic group in Syria. Federal prosecutors said they searched 10 apartments in Berlin, Frankfurt and Bonn on Monday. They arrested one person in each of the three cities. SENT: 130 wrods.

BRITAIN-HESTON-BLUMENTHAL

LONDON — The Fat Duck is heading Down Under. Innovative British chef Heston Blumenthal has announced plans to pack up his Michelin-starred restaurant and fly it to Australia for a six-month stay. SENT: 130 words.

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