• E.U. Leaders Hail Accord on Banking Supervision
    13/12/2012
    BRUSSELS — European Union leaders on Thursday hailed an agreement to place banks in the euro area under a single supervisor, calling it a concrete measure to maintain the viability of the currency as well as a step toward a broader economic union.

    The deal’s importance “cannot be appreciated highly enough,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament.

    “Europe and the euro area are providing proof that they are able to meet the challenges they face,” François Hollande, the French president, said in a statement.
  • Russian Envoy Says Syrian Leader Is Losing Control
    13/12/2012
    MOSCOW — Russia’s top Middle East diplomat and the leader of NATO offered dark and strikingly similar assessments of the embattled Syrian president’s future on Thursday, asserting that he was losing control of the country after a nearly two-year conflict that has taken 40,000 lives and has threatened to destabilize the Middle East.

    The bleak appraisals — particularly from Russia, a steadfast strategic Syrian ally — amounted to a new level of pressure on the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, who has been resorting to increasingly desperate military measures, including the use of Scud ballistic missiles, to contain an armed insurgency that has encroached on the capital, Damascus.

    The Russian diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, acknowledged that Mr. Assad’s forces could be defeated by rebels, whom the Syrian leader has repeatedly dismissed as ragtag foreign-backed terrorists with no popular support.
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