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German parliament approves Greece bailout extension

The German parliament has approved a deal to extend Greece's financial bailout by four months.

A total of 542 MPs within the 631-seat chamber voted in favour of approving the extension.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party has overwhelmingly backed the extension of Greece's bailout despite dissension from within their ranks and in the German press. Credit: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The approval came after Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble - a sceptic of Athens - promised Greece would not be allowed to "blackmail" its European partners.

The vote in the Bundestag was the only major hurdle for the four-month exension for the most heavily indebted country in the euro zone.

German carnival called off due to 'threat of Islamist attack'

Braunschweig in northern Germany. Credit: Google Maps

A carnival parade in northern Germany has been cancelled at short notice due to a concrete threat of an Islamist attack, police said today.

The event had been due to take place this afternoon in Braunschweig.

"Reliable state security sources have made it known that a concrete threat of attack with an Islamist background exists," authorities in Braunschweig said in a statement.

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Hamburg Airport closed amid strike chaos

Police were forced to close the entrances to Hamburg Airport in Germany as a strike by security staff sparked chaos.

An estimated 40,000 passengers were affected as around a quarter of flights were cancelled and many more hit by long delays.

Delays and long queues are also reported at Stuttgart and Hannover airports due to staff also taking part in the action.

The strike is due to last all day, and comes as unions demand higher pay.

A spokeswoman for Hamburg airport, which has now reopened again, described the situation as "catastrophic", according to German news agency dpa.

German anti-Islam group plan first UK protest in Newcastle

A German group which protests against the perceived "Islamification of the West" is planning its first UK rally at the end of the month.

Last month 25,000 people joined a demonstration in the streets of Dresden in support of Pegida.

upporters of anti-immigration movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) hold flags during a demonstration in Dresden Credit: Reuters

The group, known by its German acronym which translates as Patriotic Europeans Against The Islamisation Of The West, is planning an event in Newcastle on Saturday 28th February.

A Facebook post attributed to the group said: "Pegida UK is holding its first rally in Newcastle. All are welcome to attend. lets show the Islamists we show no fear."

Opponents have plans to hold a counter-demonstration, claiming the group is supported by members of the far right.

Northumbria Police said it had not been contacted by the organisers.

Talks to try for 'a peaceful settlement' in Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will meet Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko in Kiev today and Vladimir Putin in Moscow tomorrow to discuss how to stop the violence in eastern Ukraine.

Members of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic drive armoured vehicles in the Donetsk region. Credit: Reuters

"In view of the escalating violence in recent days, the chancellor and President Hollande are intensifying their efforts, which have been going on for months, for a peaceful settlement to the conflict in eastern Ukraine," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

Greece tells Germany it will 'never again' have budget deficit

Greek finance Mmnister Yanis Varoufakis promised that his country will "never again" have a budget deficit and tried to reassure Germany that Athens' new policies did not mean it was turning its back on reform.

Greek Minister of Finance Gianis Varoufakis. Credit: Arne Dedert/DPA/Press Association Images

Varoufakis told German newspaper Die Zeit:

The Germans have to understand that it doesn't mean we are straying from the reform path if we give a pensioner who lives on 300 euros a month an extra 300 euros a year.

I can promise you Greece will - apart from interest payments - never again present a budget deficit. Never, never, never!

Varoufakis added that the new Greek government "will never seek financial help from Moscow."

He is scheduled to meet German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble tomorrow after touring Europe to drum up support for plans to halt the austerity policies prescribed by Berlin.

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Anti-Islam protest in Leipzig smaller than expected

Supporters of the anti-Islam movement Pegida took to the streets in the German cities of Leipzip and Cologne on Wednesday night.

Supporters of the anti-Islam Pegida movement gather in Leipzig in east Germany Credit: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The movement has attracted tens of thousands of people onto the streets each week in Dresden, where it started out, but tonight's gatherings were smaller than expected.

Members of KOGIDA, the Cologne arm of the anti-immigrant movement Credit: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

The anti-immigration protesters were outnumbered by a counter-demonstration in Leipzig.

Riot police stand guard in front of Cologne Cathedral during a rally by members of KOGIDA Credit: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Two people arrested in Berlin terror raids

Police in Germany say they have arrested two men on suspicion of recruiting fighters and obtaining equipment and funding for the so-called Islamic State group in Syria.

German media surround police as they leave an apartment building in Berlin following an anti-terror raid. Credit: Reuters

The two men, aged 41 and 43, were detained in a series of raids on 11 residences in the German capital Berlin.

Police said there is no evidence they were planning attacks in Germany.

The arrests come amid heightened security across Europe following the Paris terror atrocities last week.

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