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BC-Europe News Digest

November 24, 2014

Top stories in Europe on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

IRAN-NUCLEAR TALKS

VIENNA — The U.S. and Iran are making last-minute progress at nuclear talks but will need to extend negotiations to next month, Western diplomats said Monday. Their comments jibed with word that negotiations had now turned two track, with the sides still racing to reduce differences at the negotiating table while already working on the modalities of how long to extend the talks. By Matthew Lee and George Jahn.

AP Photos XRZ124-1123140000, XRZ119-1123140000, TOK306-1123141309, TOK308-1123141309.

ITALY-EBOLA

MILAN — The Italian health ministry says an Italian doctor working in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the Ebola virus and will be transferred to Rome for treatment. The ministry said in a statement that the doctor, who works for the non-governmental organization Emergency, will arrive in Italy overnight Monday for treatment at the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome. It is Italy’s first confirmed case of Ebola.

GERMANY-ART-TROVE

BERLIN — A Swiss museum agreed on Monday to accept a priceless collection of long-hidden art bequeathed to it by German collector Cornelius Gurlitt, but said it will work with German officials to ensure any pieces looted by the Nazis from Jewish owners are returned. German authorities in 2012 seized 1,280 pieces from Gurlitt’s apartment while investigating a tax case, including works by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. Gurlitt died in May, designating Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Bern as his sole heir. By Kirsten Grieshaber.

AP Photos XBRN101-0507141455, XBRN102-0507141455.

RUSSIA-GEORGIA

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign an agreement with the leader of Abkhazia that will tighten Russia’s control over the breakaway Georgian region on the Black Sea. Georgia has denounced the agreement as in effect annexation and said it will further hinder efforts to normalize relations with Russia.

ITALY-ROME-MAYOR’S-MESS

ROME — Pigs root through garbage piling up in a working class neighborhood. City buses improvise routes on streets clogged with triple-parked cars. On rainy days, muck-choked sewers make crossing the road a Herculean labor. Ignazio Marino promised to bring order to Rome’s chaos when he was elected mayor in a landslide last year. Instead, critics say the liver transplant surgeon is the affliction not the cure — and are pressuring him to resign. By Frances D’Emilio.

AP Photos AJM103-1121141731, AJM102-1121141731, ROM108-1106141530, ROM102-1118141723, ROM101-1118141723, ROM105-1106141530, AJM101-1121141731, ROM103-1106141530.

CZECH-POISONED ENVELOPES

PRAGUE — An envelope mailed to the Czech Republic’s finance minister contained poison, the second such case in a week, an official said Monday. Tests conducted on the suspicious envelope to minister Andrej Babis detected “a deadly amount of a dangerous poison,” according to Radek Pokornik, a spokesman for the National Institute for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection.

BRITAIN-TERRORISM

LONDON — U.K. authorities are outlining a new set of counterterrorism measures, including a ban on insurance companies reimbursing ransom payments. The bill to be outlined Monday by Home Secretary Theresa May reinforces Britain’s long-held position that there should be no ransom payments to terrorists because payments to groups such as Islamic State merely place more people at risk.

SPACE-SHUTTLE

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan — A Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy docked Monday with the International Space Station, less than six hours after launching from Russia’s manned space facility in Kazakhstan. The Russian capsule roared into the pre-dawn darkness just after 3 a.m. Monday (2100 GMT Sunday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Russian Anton Shkaplerov, NASA’s Terry Virts and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy aboard.

AP Photos BAIK124-1124140301, BAIK120-1124140036, BAIK119-1124140033, BAIK118-1123142316, BAIK115-1123142244, BAIK111-1123142233, BAIK122-1124140301.

BALTICS-US-TROOPS

VILNIUS, Lithuania — A top U.S. military commander in Europe says U.S. troops will remain in the three Baltic countries and Poland through next year or longer to “deter Russian aggression.” In an interview published Monday, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told the Baltic News Service that Russia was trying to intimidate its neighbors with military exercises near their borders and air space.

PORTUGAL-FORMER PREMIER DETAINED

LISBON, Portugal — Former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates is back in court for more questioning by a judge about suspected corruption, money-laundering and tax fraud. Socrates arrived at the Lisbon court in a police car Monday after spending a third straight night in jail.

BUSINESS

BELGIUM-STRIKE

BRUSSELS — Trade unions have opened a month of intermittent strike action by paralyzing the port of Antwerp and slowing train traffic through much of Belgium. Monday’s protest action targeted measures by the nation’s business-friendly government to cut into employees’ income, extend working time and restrict social services.

AP Photos GVW104-1124140843, GVW106-1124140850, GVW102-1124140830, GVW107-1124140855, GVW101-1124140828, GVW103-1124140831.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — A closely-watched survey shows German business confidence rose in November, putting an end to six consecutive months of declines. It was a modestly upbeat sign for the largest economy in the 18-country euro currency union, which is struggling to grow.

AP Photos SOB103-1121141203.

GREECE-BAILOUT-REVIEW

ATHENS, Greece — The Greek finance ministry says the country’s debt inspectors will meet with Greek officials in Paris on Tuesday to move ahead with the stalled review of the nation’s financial reforms. Greece and its debt inspectors — from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank — disagree on what reforms remain to be completed before the main part of the country’s bailout ends this year.

SWITZERLAND-SYNGENTA

GENEVA — Agrochemicals giant Syngenta says it is eliminating or reshuffling 1,800 jobs globally as part of a $1 billion cost-cutting program to boost earnings. The Basel, Switzerland-based manufacturer, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of seeds and crop chemicals and has more than 28,000 employees in some 90 countries, says most of the company-wide job reductions and relocations will occur in 2015.

The AP.

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