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Alitalia Board Gives Green Light to Etihad Deal

The board of struggling Italian airline Alitalia has approved a tie-up proposal with the Emirati carrier Etihad Airways, a company statement said on Friday.

Alitalia chairman Roberto Colaninno and chief executive Gabriele Del Torchio are charged with negotiating details of the deal with the Abu Dhabi airline, said the statement issued after a marathon meeting.

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Qatar to Pay Former Hamas Civil Servant Salaries

Qatar is stepping in temporarily to help the new Palestinian unity government pay former employees of Islamist movement Hamas' disbanded Gaza government, an official said Friday.

The Gulf state said it would contribute a total of $60 million (44 million euros) while the Palestinian Authority grapples with a pay row, the first challenge for a government formed to try to end years of Palestinian rivalry.

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Russia Plans No Ukraine Gas Talks Before Cutoff Deadline

Russia's energy ministry said on Friday it intends to hold no new talks with either the European Union or Ukraine before Moscow's deadline to cut off energy supplies unless Kiev pays its gas debt.

"We are not planning any meetings so far," energy ministry spokeswoman Olga Golant told Agenec France Presse. Russian officials had no plans to discuss the matter over the phone either before the cutoff early Monday, she added.

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Spain to Count Drugs, Prostitution when Measuring GDP

Spain will include revenues from prostitution, drug trafficking, tobacco smuggling and other illegal activities when calculating its economic output, its statistics office Thursday.

The measure, which comes into force in September, complies with new European Union rules meant to ensure that all member states use the same methodology to estimate the size of their economy.

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Airbus Sees No Reason to Leave if Britain Quits EU

Airbus's chief executive said Thursday that if Britain voted to leave the European Union that would not be a reason for the European planemaker to quit the country where it employs 10,000 people.

The comments by Fabrice Bregier run counter to those by many British business leaders who have begun a campaign against their country leaving the EU as could happen in possible 2017 referendum.

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German Inflation Hits 4-Year Low

Inflation in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, slowed to its lowest rate in four years in May, weighed down by falling energy prices, data showed on Friday. 

According to final data compiled by the federal statistics office Destatis, German inflation slowed to 0.9 percent last month, its lowest level since February 2010.

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Oil Prices Rally on Iraq Violence

Oil prices climbed on Thursday on rising concerns that turmoil in Iraq will disrupt Middle East supplies, analysts said.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in July jumped $1.47 compared with Wednesday's close to $105.87 a barrel, also following a stockpiles report indicating solid U.S. demand.

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U.S. Treasury Approved BNP Iran Licenses

U.S. authorities authorized BNP Paribas to operate in Iran earlier in the year, even as they considered penalties against the French bank for earlier breaking an embargo imposed on the country, a Treasury official said.

The U.S. Treasury Department granted the bank two licenses in February and March for transactions in Iran as sanctions were being reduced against the country.

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Iran's Solar Car Challenge Depends on U.S. Plane Ticket

It is not easy for an Iranian to visit America. With no US embassy in Tehran since 1979, obtaining a visa usually requires two costly trips to Dubai or Turkey.

A group of Iranian students, however, have a far bigger problem -- they want to send a car to the United States. Only then will they get on a plane.

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OPEC Facing Dark Clouds on Supply Horizon

OPEC faces a period of static oil prices as traders track supply-side uncertainties surrounding Iraq, Iran and Libya, as well as Ukraine, analysts said Thursday.

The oil exporters' cartel opted this week to maintain its crude output ceiling, expressing confidence in the market despite global tensions keeping prices high.

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