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FRANCE

Sarkozy, Merkel pressing for changes to save euro

PARIS | The leaders of France and Germany next week plan to push for fundamental changes to the European treaty governing the embattled euro currency shared by 17 nations, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday.

Mr. Sarkozy said in a speech that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Monday in Paris to unveil proposals to try to lift Europe out of its debt crisis and “guarantee” its future.

“France will push with Germany for a new European treaty refounding and rethinking the organization of Europe,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

“The Maastricht Treaty has revealed itself to be imperfect,” he added, referring to the pact that led to the creation of the euro currency in 1999.

Changes in the treaty would have to be approved by all 27 member nations of the European Union, 10 of which do not use the euro currency.

SYRIA

U.N. says conflict is now a civil war

BEIRUT | Syria has entered a state of civil war with more than 4,000 people dead and an increasing number of soldiers defecting from the army to fight President Bashar Assad’s regime, the U.N.’s top human rights official said Thursday.

Civil war has been the worst-case scenario in Syria since the revolt erupted eight months ago. The assessment that the bloodshed in Syria has crossed into civil war came from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

TUNISIA

Protesters fear influence of Islamist political party

TUNIS | Thousands of people rallied in central Tunis on Thursday to express fears of extremism under an Islamist party that swept to power in October polls.

About 2,000 to 3,000 students, teachers, miners and other protesters gathered outside Bardo Palace, where Tunisian lawmakers met to draft a new constitution.

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