BC-- Europe News Digest at 1200 GMT

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Associated Press

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 11:30 AM

TOP STORIES ON MONDAY, NOV. 19, 2012

EU-MINISTERS-MEETING

BRUSSELS — The European Union's foreign policy chief is expressing concern about the mounting death toll in the Gaza conflict, saying the crisis can only be resolved with a long-term solution. By Slobodan Lekic. AP Photos.

US-MIDEAST

WASHINGTON — U.S. lawmakers are calling on Egypt and Turkey to take a central role in helping to end the bloody conflict in the Middle East, with one influential senator going so far as to say that American aid dollars are at risk if Egypt doesn't reign in Hamas militants. Their comments came as the U.S. and Britain warned about the risks of an Israeli ground assault in the Gaza Strip, while vigorously defending the Jewish state's right to protect itself against rocket attacks. By Anne Flaherty and Jim Kuhnhenn.

AP Photos ASC101-1119120701, JRL102-1119120746, DV114-1118121612, CAI121-1118121422.

NATO-TURKEY-SYRIA

BRUSSELS — Germany's defense minister says he expects Turkey to make a formal request to NATO on Monday for Patriot missiles to bolster anti-aircraft defenses along the border with war-wracked Syria.

BELGIUM-ART'S PERFECT THEFT

GHENT, Belgium — The main suspect in the legendary art heist is said to have whispered with his dying breath: "Only I know where the 'Adoration' is..." More than seven decades later, the whereabouts of a panel belonging to one of Western art's defining works, the "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb," also known as the "Ghent Altarpiece," remains a mystery. By Raf Casert.

AP Photos VLM803-1117122101, VLM804-1117122101, VLM801-1117122111, VLM802-1117122101.

KAZAKHSTAN-SPACE

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Three astronauts touched down in the dark, chilly expanses of central Kazakhstan onboard a Soyuz capsule Monday after a 125-day stay at the International Space Station. NASA's Sunita Williams, Russian astronaut Yury Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide of Japan's JAXA space agency landed at 07:56 a.m. local time (0156 GMT) northeast of the town of Arkalyk. By Peter Leonard.

AP Photos XMIM104-1119120619, XMIM102-1119120620, XMIM103-1119120631, XMIM101-1119120610.

VATICAN-POPE SCULPTURE

ROME — The city of Rome unveiled a revamped statue of Pope John Paul II on Monday after the first one was pilloried by the public and the Vatican. Artist Oliviero Rainaldi said he was pleased with the final product, saying it matched his original vision. He blamed workers for a botched assemblage the first time around. By Nicole Winfield.

AP Photos GB101-1119120821, GB102-1119120821.

RUSSIA-OPPOSITION TO ADVERTISERS

MOSCOW — Russian opposition and human rights groups on Monday urged Western consumer products giants to stop "financing politically motivated persecution" by advertising on a Kremlin-friendly TV network known for its biased coverage of government critics and demonstrations against President Vladimir Putin. In the wake of unprecedented anti-Putin protests that followed last December's rigged parliament vote and Putin's return to the Kremlin in May, NTV has run dozens of news reports, talk shows and pseudo-documentaries accusing opposition leaders of plotting coups and terrorist attacks, of receiving money from Western governments, and of hiring migrant workers and neo-Nazis to participate in anti-Putin rallies. By Mansur Mirovalev.

BRITAIN-FEMALE BISHOPS

LONDON — After decades of debate, the Church of England ON Tuesday could finally admit women to the ranks of bishops, or instead vote to continue the argument for several more years. By Robert Barr.

FRANCE-CONSERVATIVES

PARIS — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party was in disarray on Monday after a vote to elect its next leader produced a razor-thin result and both candidates claimed victory. An electoral commission of the Union for a Popular Movement party was sifting through the votes after allies of both candidates — former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and former Budget Minister Jean-Francois Cope — both claimed pockets of vote-rigging in Sunday's balloting. By Jamey Keaten.

AP Photos DLM101-1118120000, XTC110-1118122349.

RUSSIA-NGOS

MOSCOW — Russian nongovernmental organizations are faced with a new repressive law going into effect this week requiring them to register as foreign agents if they get funding from abroad and engage in anything political. Some say they will refuse to comply, which could lead to them being shut down. This law and another broadening the definition of treason are part of President Vladimir Putin's efforts to stop what he sees as Western meddling in Russia's affairs. By Vladimir Isachenkov. Formats: Text, Photos, Video.

POLAND-POLITICS

WARSAW, Poland — Waldemar Pawlak, deputy prime minister and economy minister in Poland's center-right coalition government, is resigning from both positions. Pawlak said Monday he will submit his resignation to Prime Minister Donald Tusk later in the day, two days after he lost his position as leader of the Polish People's Party, a farmers' party that is the junior partner in Tusk's five-year-old government. Pawlak was unseated at a party congress by rival Janusz Piechocinski.

KAZAKHSTAN-OPPOSITION LEADER

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A court in Kazakhstan has upheld the conviction of an opposition leader accused of fomenting unrest and mounting an attempt to overthrow the Central Asian nation's government. The ruling Monday by the court in the western city of Aktau means Alga party leader Vladimir Kozlov faces 7 ½ years in jail.

RUSSIA-SLAVES

MOSCOW — A dozen Central Asians were recently freed from a food store where they were virtually held captive and used as slave labor, drawing attention to the treatment of migrant workers in Moscow. Russia's interior minister, prosecutor general and chief investigator are called to a public hearing on the case. By Max Seddon. Formats: Text, Photos, Video.

WORLD COURT-NICARAGUA-COLOMBIA

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Court of Justice is ruling on a long-running dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia over ownership of islands in the western Caribbean and the maritime border between the countries. Nicaragua first asked the world court, the United Nations' highest judicial organ, to intervene in 2001, arguing that Colombia had no legal claim to the islands.

BRITAIN-THEATER REVIEW-MARK RYLANCE

LONDON — In his last stage role, Mark Rylance thrilled audiences as a bawdy bard for modern Britain. Now he's going back to an earlier Bard in a vibrant William Shakespeare double bill. By: Jill Lawless. Formats: Text, Photos.

BUSINESS

SPAIN-FINANCIAL CRISIS

MADRID — The Bank of Spain says the level of bad debt in the country's banks has risen to a record 10.7 percent of their loan total. The bank said Monday the amount of loans at risk of not being paid in September totaled €182 billion, up from €179 billion in August — the 15th monthly increase in a row.

WORLD MARKETS

LONDON — Optimism over the progress of crucial U.S. budget talks combined with hopes that Greece will finally get its next batch of bailout cash to shore up markets Monday in spite of concerns over the fighting in the Middle East.

DENMARK-SAS

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The future of Scandinavia's flagship airline SAS hangs in the balance even though it concluded deals Monday with the vast majority of its pilot and cabin crew unions. The troubled carrier must convince unions of the need to cut jobs, salaries and pensions as part of a restructuring deal with creditors that will keep the airline — half-owned by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian governments — afloat.

NETHERLANDS-ING

AMSTERDAM — ING Groep NV has agreed a deal with European regulators on when it will repay the remaining €3 billion ($3.8 billion) it still owes in state aid. The bank, which fell foul of EU laws when it was bailed out by the Dutch state in 2008, says it will repay the money, plus a 50 percent penalty, in four installments.

POLAND-POLITICS

WARSAW, Poland — Waldemar Pawlak, deputy prime minister and economy minister in Poland's center-right coalition government, is resigning from both positions. Pawlak said Monday he will submit his resignation to Prime Minister Donald Tusk later in the day, two days after he lost his position as leader of the Polish People's Party, a farmers' party that is the junior partner in Tusk's five-year-old government. Pawlak was unseated at a party congress by rival Janusz Piechocinski.

SPORTS

SOC--ITALIAN ROUNDUP

ROME — With pressure growing on coach Zdenek Zeman, struggling Roma hosts Torino looking to move on from its derby loss. Expected by 2145 GMT.

SOC--JUVENTUS-CHELSEA

TURIN, Italy — Chelsea can qualify for the next round of the Champions League with a win at Juventus on Tuesday, although the defending champions need to overturn a dismal record in their previous eight visits to Italy and quickly move on from a domestic loss to West Bromwich Albion. Moved.

SOC--GALATASARAY-MAN UNITED

LONDON — Wayne Rooney could be one of the few big names to start for already-qualified Manchester United in Tuesday's Champions League match at Galatasaray after recovering from tonsillitis. Moved.

SOC--VALENCIA-BAYERN

FRANKFURT, Germany — Valencia has won all three Champions League matches since its opening-round loss to Bayern Munich, and the Spanish side would like to keep the momentum when last season's runner-up visits on Tuesday. Moved. By Nesha Starcevic.

F1--JOHN LEICESTER-191112

UNDATED — In winning his penultimate race for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton gave us something positive to remember him by before his career disappears down the same black hole that sucked the good vibes out of Michael Schumacher's comeback to Formula One. By 1600 GMT. By Sports Columnist John Leicester.

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