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Cash-Strapped French Wine Town Forced to Sell off Monuments

Residents of Saint Emilion, a hugely popular UNESCO World Heritage site in southwest France, were shocked when their mayor sold a medieval monument to pay off debts.

And while the council has defended the controversial sale as a means of raising much-needed cash for the upkeep of historic sites, it has undertaken to rethink the strategy and find alternative means of funding in future.

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Stalled Spanish Economy Veers Towards Recession

Record unemployment, stalled growth and debt-struck households and businesses: Spain has a long road to travel before it can put the 2008 property bubble collapse behind it.

For years, that bubble drove Spain's rapid economic growth: 3.3 percent in 2004, the year that Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero came to power.

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Emirates Airline Plans to Add 50 Boeing 777s

Dubai's fast-growing airline Emirates is kicking off the Mideast city's airshow with an order for 50 Boeing 777s.

The list price for the deal is $18 billion, but airlines typically negotiate discounts for large orders.

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Boeing Sees Growth Potential in Mideast

Boeing's top Middle East executives said Saturday their latest 787 Dreamliner and increased demand for defense capabilities would help the aerospace company's increase its market share in the region.

"From a global perspective our products and services are performing very well," Boeing's Middle East president Jeffrey Johnson told reporters ahead of the 12th Dubai Airshow which opens Sunday.

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Belgium's Cigarette Sales Soar as Cheap Fags Lure Foreigners

Belgium tobacco sales have soared to record heights this year as cheap cigarettes and tobacco lure discount-seeking smokers from Britain and France, the daily Le Soir said Saturday.

As health experts complained that Belgium's cheap tobacco goods fanned cancer, Le Soir, citing exclusive data from the country's finance ministry, said cigarette sales leapt 19 percent in the first nine months of the year though the national tobacco federation said domestic sales were sliding.

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IMF Chief: Japan Not Immune to Eurozone Crisis

The chief of the International Monetary Fund said Saturday that Italy's financial reform is key to reducing the impact of the eurozone crisis, and that no country is immune to the consequences if the efforts fall short.

After meeting in Tokyo with top Japanese financial officials, including Finance Minister Jun Azumi, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Italy must restore political stability and implement financial reforms to provide "clarity and credibility" and restore confidence.

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Iraq Demands Exxon Choose on Kurdistan Oil Contract

Iraq demanded Saturday that oil giant ExxonMobil choose between a new contract it has signed with the Kurdistan regional government and its existing contract for the huge West Qurna-1 field in the south.

"We categorically deny the reports carried by some media that the deputy prime minister for energy affairs (Hussein al-Shahristani) has agreed that a U.S. firm working in the south of Iraq can sign exploration contracts with Kurdistan," said a statement released by Shahristani's office.

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Universal, Sony/ATV to Buy EMI for $4.1 Billion

EMI Group Ltd., home of The Beatles, Coldplay and Katy Perry, is being sold in two parts for $4.1 billion.

Universal Music Group said Friday that it has agreed to buy the recording division of EMI for 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion).

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Global Market Tensions Ease as Italy Backs Reforms

Global market tensions eased on Friday as Italian lawmakers gave initial approval to a package of key economic reforms that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has set as the precondition for his resignation.

The wide-ranging measures including privatizations and boosting competition in the labor market were adopted by the Senate and will now go before the Chamber of Deputies, or lower house, for a vote expected on Saturday.

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Japan Says to Join Pacific Free Trade Talks

Japan said Friday it would enter talks towards an Asia-Pacific free trade deal, a move that threatens to deepen rifts in the ruling party amid opposition from a farm industry fearing cheap imports.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he made the decision to take part in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as Japan looks to boost its fragile economy and continue growing as a trading nation.

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