- - Sunday, October 28, 2012

The European Commission says it needs an additional $11.7 billion to meet all of the commitments to the European Union in the 2012 budget.

The commission, the EU’s executive arm, adopted an amending budget last week, but it must be approved by the European Parliament and the 27 EU national leaders.

The EU says about a third of the money can be raised from antitrust fines and other penalties. However, nearly $6 billion will have to come from member states, some of which are cutting their budgets because of Europe’s financial crisis.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says the money is needed to continue funding for international students and poorer regions in the EU.

The 2012 budget is more than $190 billion.


Putin names new envoy to NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin has named his deputy foreign minister as Moscow’s new envoy to NATO.

Alexander Grushko is expected to take up the position in November in Brussels, the home of the Western military alliance, Mr. Putin’s office announced last week.

Russia’s ambassador to Italy, Alexei Meshkov, was appointed to replace Mr. Grushko as deputy foreign minister.

The NATO position has been vacant since December, when Dmitry Rogozin was named vice prime minister.

Mr. Grushko will hold the rank of ambassador.

Although Russia is not a member of the 28-nation alliance. Moscow maintains relations through the NATO-Russia Council, established in 2002.


Vatican envoy attends Mass in historic monastery

BAGHDAD — The Vatican ambassador to Iraq expressed concern for the safety of Christians in Iraq after attending the first Mass in 1,500 years at one of the country’s oldest monasteries last week.

The ambassador, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, also met with top Islamic cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani after the service in the monastery in the city of al-Hira, about 100 miles south of Baghdad.

Archbishop Lingua told reporters after the Mass that he delivered a message to Ayatollah Sistani from Pope Benedict XVI. The pope said he is “very concerned with the situation of Christians in Iraq, and has urged them to stay in the country and live their lives naturally,” according to a report from the Middle East news service, Al Monitor.

The ambassador added, “The visit was religious and fraternal, aimed at creating a spirit of love between all religions. It was a positive visit.”


‘Crunch time’ for trade deal, EU envoy says

HALIFAX — The ambassador from the European Union is warning Canadian officials that time is running out to reach a trade deal by the end of the year with several tough issues still unresolved after three years of talks.

Ambassador Matthias Binkmann delivered a blunt message to Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter on a visit to the provincial capital of Halifax last week, The Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

“Now we’re in the final stretch, and it’s crunch time,” he said.

Remaining issues include patent protection for pharmaceuticals and market access for agricultural products.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wants a trade agreement by Dec. 31, says the deal could boost the Canadian economy by $12 billion a year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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