TOP STORIES SO FAR IN EUROPE ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2013

UNITED STATES-SYRIA

LONDON — Violent extremists seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad may instead have hurt negotiations to replace him, frustrating Western diplomats who continue to push for his ouster as a necessary part of a peace agreement in the Mideast nation's bloody civil war. Bolstered by infighting among Syrian opposition groups — including some linked to al-Qaida that have jeopardized foreign aid — U.S. officials say Assad has a stronger grasp on power now than he did just months ago, when the U.S. and Russia called for a new round of talks to settle the 2 1/2-year war that has killed more than 100,000 people. By Lara Jakes. Developing.

IRAN-NUCLEAR

VIENNA — Iran nuclear talks ended last week with enthusiastic pronouncements of progress from negotiators. Tehran's willingness to engage is a big step, but diplomats familiar with the meeting also say significant gaps remain between what the Iranians offered and what the six negotiating powers seek in order to reduce fears Iran wants to build nuclear weapons. Details of the Iranian offer remain confidential, but two diplomats agreed to give The Associated Press some insight. They demanded anonymity because they are under orders not to discuss the issue. By George Jahn. AP Photos. 700 words moved.

GREECE-FAR-RIGHT

ATHENS, Greece — Greek lawmakers decide on a proposal to suspend state funding for political parties accused of criminal activities, a measure targeting the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn group. The legislation was backed by the conservative-led governing coalition, the main opposition and a small leftwing party — representing 241 of Parliament's 300 seats. 430 words moved.

RUSSIA-BUS BLAST

MOSCOW — Russian police says attackers set fire to a Muslim prayer house in a southern Russian city earlier rocked by a suicide bombing. Volgograd police said Tuesday someone threw Molotov cocktails at the building late Monday night, but the custodian managed to put it out. Houses with rooms set aside for Muslim prayer are common in southern Russia. AP Photos. 500 words by 1300 GMT.

UN-RIGHTS-CHINA

GENEVA — Faced with a U.N. review of its human rights, China acknowledged Tuesday that it still faces shortcomings but insists it has reduced poverty, deepened judicial reforms and protections of ethnic minorities. China put its pride and promise to better itself on display at the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, which reviews each nation's record once every four years, as human rights groups and activists called attention to what they described as serious abuses and violations of international protections such as crackdowns on human rights defenders and ethnic Tibetan and Uighur populations. By John Heilprin. AP Photos. 300 words moved.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE

SWITZERLAND-EARNS-NOVARTIS

GENEVA — Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG raised its full-year sales outlook because of delays in generic competition to its blockbuster blood pressure drug Diovan, even though it said negative currency trends contributed to a 6 percent drop in its third-quarter net profit. The Basel, Switzerland-based company said Tuesday it made a net profit of $2.26 billion in the July-September quarter, down from last year's equivalent of $2.42 billion. By John Heilprin. AP Photos. 340 words sent.

NETHERLANDS-EARNS-KPN

AMSTERDAM — Royal KPN NV, the Dutch telecommunications company that rejected a takeover bid by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim this month, reported a large loss for the third quarter, citing weak business conditions, high investment costs, and an accounting charge. The net loss of 241 million euros ($329 million) compares with a profit of 267 million euros in the same period a year ago. Toby Sterling. 330 words sent.

WORLD MARKETS

LONDON — Financial markets were steady Tuesday ahead of the next round of U.S. corporate and economic news that includes the delayed nonfarm payrolls data for September. Because of the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, the payrolls figures weren't published on the first Friday of the month as they usually are. Now that the government is functioning and the U.S. debt ceiling has been raised, investors have a lot of back-data to digest that could have a bearing on when the Federal Reserve decides to reduce its $85 billion worth of monthly financial asset purchases. By Pan Pylas. 470 words, sent, to be updated at 1350 GMT.

GERMANY-VOLKSWAGEN

BRUSSELS — The European Union's top court has upheld a law giving a German government authority a blocking minority in Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker. The Court of Justice on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against the rule brought by the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc's executive arm that also acts as the antitrust watchdog. 270 words sent.

GERMANY-LUFTHANSA

FRANKFURT, Germany — Shares in German airline Lufthansa have fallen after the airline issued a new profit forecast that is short of analyst expectations. The airline said Tuesday it would earn 600-700 million euros ($820-$960 million) in operating profit this year. The earlier forecast was for an improvement on last year's 524 million. 130 words sent.

NOKIA-NEW DEVICES

NEW YORK — Nokia is expanding its lineup of Windows phones and introducing its first tablet computer, all sporting the powerful camera technology found in its flagship Lumia 1020 smartphone. The struggling cellphone maker is turning to the camera to differentiate its phones from rivals. The Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera with technology designed to produce better low-light shots and offer greater manual controls than most smartphones. By Anick Jesdanun. 500 words moved.