-Europe News Digest, AP



ZURICH -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter has chaired an emergency meeting with continental soccer bodies Thursday while staying out of public view himself as world soccer is rocked by a U.S. racketeering case. Blatter is resisting calls from UEFA, the European soccer body, to postpone Friday's FIFA presidential election by six months.By Graham Dunbar. SENT: 320 words, photos. Developing.



BERN, Switzerland -- For months, American and Swiss investigators worked in secret to prepare for the raids that would shake the soccer world. They knew that the moment to strike would come when FIFA, the sport's governing body, held its annual congress in Zurich, gathering all of its top officials -- including the main suspects in a far-reaching U.S. corruption probe. By Frank Jordans. SENT: 700 words, photos.


LONDON -- Worried that their reputations will be tarnished by their links to FIFA, major sponsors are demanding that soccer's global governing body clean up its act, with Visa even warning it is prepared to jump ship. Coca-Cola also made it clear it is unhappy with the scandals rocking the organization it and others support with millions of dollars a year. On Wednesday, seven officials were arrested in a dawn raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich while Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 760 words, photos.


LONDON -- The notion that young women are traveling to Syria solely to become "jihadi brides" is simplistic and hinders efforts to prevent other girls from being radicalized, new research suggests. Young women are joining the so-called Islamic State group for many reasons, including anger over the perceived persecution of Muslims and the wish to belong to a sisterhood with similar beliefs, according to a report released Thursday by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London. By Danica Kirka. SENT: 850 words, photos.


PARIS -- In the shadow of the famed Sacre Coeur basilica, hundreds of migrants have poured into a makeshift tent camp on a bridge over Eurostar train tracks to Britain -- the country that many see as a cherished final destination. After many agonizing journeys, the mostly East African migrants find themselves in limbo. Local leaders, fed up with the sordid eyesore looming over Gare du Nord train station, are calling for the migrants to be moved as early as next month to more decent shelter. But trapped between French bureaucracy and politics, the bridge-dwellers simply have nowhere else to go. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 740 words, photos.


MEDULIN, Croatia -- Peter Fries has been coming to Croatia for years after falling in love with its pristine coastline, fresh seafood, mellow wine and friendly hosts. With Croatia announcing it will allow oil drilling in the Adriatic sea, the 60-year-old German businessman is having second thoughts about his loyalty to this Mediterranean tourist haven known for glorious sunsets over sparkling seas and white pebble beaches shadowed by thick pine forests. By Dusan Stojanovic and Darko Bandic. SENT: 810 words, photos.


BRUSSELS -- European Union nations and legislators have reached a deal in principle to create a fund that could generate up to 315 billion euros ($345 billion) in private- and public-sector investment to upgrade infrastructure, stimulate the EU's sluggish economies and ignite job growth. After all-night negotiations that ended early Thursday, both sides reached the deal, which aims to use 21 billion euros ($23 billion) from EU institutions as seed money to attract funds from private investors. By Raf Casert. SENT: 300 words, photos.


PARIS -- France's foreign minister wants European countries to do more to fight the Islamic State group, and is seeking support from Russia in international talks about defeating the group. France, which joined U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State extremists in Iraq, is hosting a conference Tuesday on the international efforts against IS. SENT: 130 words.


STOCKHOLM -- Norway's parliamentary parties have agreed that the country's $900 billion sovereign wealth fund should stop investing in coal companies because of their impact on climate change. Under new rules to be presented by Parliament's finance committee on Thursday, the fund -- also known as the oil fund -- would exclude companies that get at least 30 percent of their revenue from mining coal or burning it. By Karl Ritter. SENT: 190 words.


LONDON -- Prime Minister David Cameron has set off on a whirlwind visit to four European capitals, pressing his case that Britain needs to renegotiate its relationship with the 27 other members of the bloc. It will be a tough sell. France's foreign minister signaled resistance to any major concessions on Britain's push for less centralized EU control. By Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless. SENT: 500 words, photos.

AP Photos XAG115-0527151145.


TIRANA, Albania -- In a major policy shift, the Serbian prime minister said his country will accept U.S. calls to reduce dependency on Russian gas by adding an American-backed pipeline that would bring gas to Europe from Azerbaijan. "Regarding energy safety, energy security, we are ready to diversify the sources of gas for Serbia, which is very important for our American friends as well," Aleksandar Vucic told The Associated Press in an interview. By Amer Cohadzic. SENT: 450 words, photos.


LONDON -- Britain's Methodist Church says there were almost 2,000 reports of physical and sexual abuse within the institution over more than half a century, and has apologized for failing to protect the victims. Martyn Atkins, general secretary of the Methodist Conference, made an "unreserved apology" Thursday. He said the abuse "inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the church." SENT: 220 words.


BELGRADE, Serbia -- Serbia's far-right leader Vojislav Seselj said Thursday he will launch a legal battle before the Serbian courts to fight any order to return to the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. Seselj told the AP in an interview on Thursday that he has no intention return voluntarily to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, and would use the right to appeal the extradition according to Serbian laws. By Jovana Gec. SENT: 280 words.


MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to make losses of Russian troops in peacetime a secret. The decree published on the official government web-site and signed by Putin on Wednesday makes it a state secret to divulge information about peacetime losses of Russian troops in "special operations." SENT: 120 words.


WARSAW, Poland -- Polish authorities are searching for a man who tangled with a bear at Warsaw's zoo and escaped, leaving traces of his blood behind. Maria Krakowiak, head of the animals of prey section at the Warsaw zoo, said Thursday the man hasn't been found after his dangerous stunt Sunday. SENT: 130 words.