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Europe Eyes 1.2 Bln Euros to Boost Democracy in Its Backyard

Europe is looking to pump 1.2 billion euros of extra aid into fledgling democracies spawned by the Arab Spring as well as those on its eastern flank, according to a policy U-turn unveiled Wednesday.

Slammed for propping up despots and turning a blind eye to rights abuses in the past, the "top to toe" revamp of European Union policy to its neighbours aims to link aid to political and economic reform.

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Japan's Softbank to Back Solar Plan

Japanese telecom company Softbank Corp. plans to take part in a project promoted by its CEO and president Masayoshi Son to build about 10 large solar power plants, a financial daily reported Wednesday.

Since Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear emergency, Son, Japan's richest man, has been a high-profile advocate for a shift away from atomic power and toward renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal.

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Bahraini Group Cuts Ties with Lebanon for ‘Meddling in the Kingdom’s Affairs’

An influential Bahraini business group decided Tuesday to freeze ties with Iran, Iraq and Lebanon in response to what it claims is foreign meddling during Shiite-led protests in the Gulf kingdom.

The move by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry is likely to ratchet up tensions between the small island nation — which is ruled by a Sunni monarchy and is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet — and Shiite powerhouse Iran and its allies.

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Naharnet Launches its New Website

This week marks a new decade for Naharnet as it bids farewell to its 10-year-old website and enters a new era with a groundbreaking Content Management Platform completely built in-house.

The initial Naharnet 2.0 website will slowly develop into a new environment that will redefine Naharnet as a digital and social media destination for the Lebanese and Arabs across the world.

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MEA to Buy New Aircraft with Fransabank Funding

Middle East Airlines (MEA) will purchase an Airbus A320-232 airplane for $32 million through a 10-year financing deal with Fransabank.

MEA President Mohammed Hout signed the agreement with the bank’s chairman Adel al-Kassar at Fransabank’s headquarters in Beirut’s Hamra street.

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Sarkozy Kicks Off First 'E-G8' Internet Summmit

French President Nicolas Sarkozy kicked off a summit of the world's most powerful Internet barons in Paris early on Tuesday at the first "e-G8" gathering.

Launching the gathering of heads of online giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft, Sarkozy hailed the leaders of the "Internet revolution", but warned the industry that with their power came great responsibility.

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Threat of Volcano Ash Cloud Hits Airline Shares

The threat of ash from an Icelandic volcano shutting European airspace hit airline shares on Monday.

Shares in German airline Lufthansa plunged by 4.56 percent while the DAX slid 1.5 percent.

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Prince Bin Talal Urges U.S. to Tackle Budget Shortfall

Saudi Arabian tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal urged the United States Friday to step up efforts to reduce its massive budget deficit, calling it a time bomb.

"We in the outside world, outside the United States, believe the United States is not giving much care and attention to this time bomb that you have right now here," Alwaleed said in an interview with U.S. television network CNBC.

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Europe Development Bank Eyes Arab Expansion

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which for two decades has financed projects in ex-Soviet states, met Friday to discuss expanding its operations into North Africa.

The move would mark a major extension of the bank's role after the uprisings that have swept though Arab North Africa in the last few months, ousting regimes in Egypt and Tunisia and creating new needs for development funding.

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BP Recovers $1.0 Bln Gulf Oil Spill Costs

BP said on Friday it had recovered $1.065 billion (744 million Euros) in costs linked to last year's devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill from a US subsidiary of Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co.

"BP announces settlement... of claims between the companies related to the Deepwater Horizon accident," the British energy group said in a statement.

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