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Finland Minister Holds Hostage Talks in Yemen

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja held talks in Sanaa on Sunday on the fate of a couple from Finland held hostage in Yemen together with an Austrian since December.

State media said he met President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, who did not rule out the use of force to secure their release.

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Quaint Finnish Homes in Warsaw Face Destruction

Nearby the big city rumbles, but one feels almost transported to a quiet forest village when standing amid a colony of Finnish wooden houses in Warsaw's government district.

The homes, erected as temporary housing in the destroyed capital just after World War II, have dwindled over the years from 90 to about 25. Now the surviving structures have become a point of contention between their inhabitants and a city government keen on tearing them down to make way for new developments.

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Finland Says Seized Military Equipment Destined for Syria

Finnish customs said Friday they had seized military equipment en route from Russia to Syria on board a Finnish ship docked at Helsinki's Vuosaari port in January.

During an inspection of the ship, customs officials discovered spare parts for tanks in a container on board the M/S Finnsun, Finnish Customs said in a statement.

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Finnish Capital Lights Up in Winter Dark

Finland's capital is aglow with colorful lights and lasers piercing the black winter skies and lighting up downtown buildings providing a much-needed burst of illumination during the darkest days of the year.

Light and sound installations at the Helsinki Lux Festival brought crowds at the city landmarks joined by lanterns hanging in trees along a path of light bordering the frozen Baltic Sea through parks and on city sidewalks, where the shortest period of daylight in midwinter is about five hours long.

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Finland's Economy Slips Into Recession

Finland's economy has slipped into recession with a 0.1 percent drop in gross domestic product in the third quarter from the previous three months, as the export-dependent country continues to suffer from a drop in demand among European trading partners.

Statistics Finland said Wednesday economic output fell 1.1 percent in the second quarter. That puts Finland in recession, commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of quarterly economic contraction.

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U.S.: No Conference on Nuke-free Mideast for Now

The U.S. said Friday that a proposed conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East cannot be convened at this point because of current conditions in the region.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement that the U.S. will continue to work to create conditions that could result in a successful conference. But she cited political turmoil in the region and Iran's defiant stance on nonproliferation.

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Israel Warns Finland it Will Stop Boat Headed for Gaza

Israel has warned Finland that it will stop a boat with pro-Palestinian activists on board by force if it tries to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip, a foreign ministry spokesman said Saturday.

"The foreign ministry has been informed by Israel that it would intervene if the ship Estelle which is flying the Finnish flag tries to break (Israel's) blockade against Gaza from the sea," spokesman Risto Piipponen said on state television.

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Portugal Wins Crisis Reprieve Ahead of German Court Decision

Bailed out Portugal won a precious reprieve from its creditors Tuesday, a day before a crucial court decision in Germany that could bring a painful end to a summertime lull in the eurozone debt crisis.

The EU and IMF agreed to relax Portugal's deficit targets for 2012 and 2013, rewarding the Portuguese for pushing through reforms and drawing a marked contrast with the little patience shown by creditors to Greece.

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IMF: Euro Crisis Threatens Finnish Economy

Despite its solid foundations, Finland's economy is threatened by the euro crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a report published Friday.

Finland enjoys "strong economic fundamentals and continued sound policy management," the report noted, but "as a small open economy, with deep trade and financial linkages, the country is sensitive to adverse spillovers from the turmoil in the euro area."

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New World Record at Mobile-phone Throwing Contest

A Finnish teenager has smashed the world record -- and probably his phone -- in this year's annual mobile-phone throwing contest in Finland.

Eighteen-year-old Ere Karjalainen launched a phone the "amazing" distance of 101.46 meters (332 feet 10 inches), Finnish public television network YLE said after Saturday's event.

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