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Last update: Tue, 03 May 2016 10am

Europe

World - Europe

Race for $39bn Australian submarine contract hots up SYDNEY: The international race between France, Germany and Japan to win a US$39-billion-dollar contract to build new submarines for Australia is reaching a climax with reports a decision could come next week and that Tokyo is all but out.The Australian cabinet's National Security Committee met this week to weigh up the options from France's shipbuilder DCNS, the Australian subsidiary of Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and the Japanese government-backed consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.Prime Minister Turnbull has said a decision "will be made in due course, it will be made shortly", but he declined to elaborate.The committee's findings will go to the full cabinet amid unconfirmed reports of an announcement next week. The Australian newspaper reported that the Japanese bid was considered the weakest and the French "the strongest".After a year running as favourite, Japan has now been virtually eliminated from the contest, The Wall Street Journal said, quoting people ...

World - Europe

Greece's 2015 primary surplus beats bailout target BRUSSELS: Greece had a primary budget surplus before debt service last year, beating the target set in its bailout programme, the European Commission said on Thursday after the EU statistics office released data on member states' budgets.A Commission spokeswoman said Athens recorded a primary surplus of 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2015."This is in line with the Commission baseline and indeed substantially better than the programme's fiscal target of a primary deficit of ...

World - Europe

Osborne misses target for UK deficit, downturn signals grow LONDON: Britain's budget deficit has overshot finance minister George Osborne's target and retail sales fell sharply in March, adding to signs of a slowing economy, according to data released on Thursday.Underscoring the challenge Osborne faces as he tries to turn a still large budget shortfall into a surplus by the end of the decade, public borrowing, excluding banks, came in at 74.0 billion pounds ($105.9 billion) in the 2015/16 tax year.The deficit was slightly above ...

World - Europe

Russia needs to quit Ukraine before sanctions talks begin, says Poroshenko BUCHAREST: No talks on lifting Western sanctions against Russia should take place until Moscow completely withdraws its military presence from Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday.Any sanctions relief in return for a partial fulfilment by Russia of the conditions of the Minsk peace deal "will be a direct threat to solving the situation in Donbass," the region of eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists are battling Ukrainian government forces.Kiev says Russia has sent troops and ...

World - Europe

NATO chief says Russia maintains 'considerable military presence' in Syria ANKARA: Russia has kept a considerable military presence in conflict-torn Syria to bolster the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday."Despite the announced partial withdrawal we see that Russia maintains a considerable military presence in support of the Assad regime in Syria," he said at a press conference in Turkey.Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016 ...

World - Europe

Aleksandar Vucic: Serbia's hardline hawk turned friend of West BELGRADE: Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who is bidding for another four years in power in Sunday's general election, is a former ultra-nationalist and close ally of Slobodan Milosevic remade as a pro-European liberal.In a political transformation viewed by critics as pragmatic rather than ideological, the tall 46-year-old Vucic now leads Serbia's efforts to join the European Union.Seen as a reliable Balkan partner -- whilst also staying friends with traditional ally Russia -- his "cooperative" ...

World - Europe

Britain cheers Queen on 90th birthday WINDSOR: Britain celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday on Thursday, with her eldest son Prince Charles paying tribute in a special radio broadcast and Prime Minister David Cameron leading a parliamentary homage.The sovereign, who last year overtook her great-great grandmother queen Victoria to become Britain's longest-reigning monarch, is to mark the day in Windsor Castle with official engagements and a dinner with the royal family.The excitement was visible in the small town of Windsor, west ...