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Bond sale shows Greece headed in 'right direction'

Greece's successful bond issue on Thursday shows that the long-troubled economy is approaching the end of its crisis, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said. "I see the issuance that took place today, which was massively oversubscribed, as an indication that Greece is heading in the right direction and that the water-testing that the authorities wanted to do is really successful," Lagarde told reporters at the World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual spring meetings.

France's Hollande names European expert his chief of staff

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande appointed a close friend and former European affairs minister to the strategic post of his chief of staff on Wednesday and reshuffled his private office to tighten the country's relations with Brussels. The nomination of Jean-Pierre Jouyet as secretary-general of the presidency was also designed to ensure better coordination with the government of new Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Hollande told the daily Le Monde.

French ministers ordered to hand in mobiles at cabinet meetings

Keen to ensure his ministers are paying attention, French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday imposed a strict ban on mobile telephones during cabinet sessions. Ministers will now be forced to leave their portable devices at the door when they join the French government's weekly cabinet meeting, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters. "To focus on what we must do, the president has decided that there will be no more mobile phones in cabinet," Le Foll said.

New French PM Valls wins parliament vote of confidence

PARIS (Reuters) - The government of new French Prime Minister Manuel Valls won a vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday, hours after Valls set out a package of tax and spending cuts aimed at restoring growth to the euro zone's second largest economy. Deputies in the lower house National Assembly voted 306 to 239 to support Valls, named as prime minister last week in a reshuffle ordered by President Francois Hollande after his Socialists lost heavily in local elections.

Valls seeks reform boost with French confidence vote

PARIS (Reuters) - New Prime Minister Manuel Valls will test France's political commitment to reform on Tuesday in a confidence vote that should allow the Socialist government to press ahead with a competitiveness drive. Valls, appointed by President Francois Hollande last week after the ruling Socialists suffered a rout in local elections, is to detail plans to phase out 30 billion euros ($41 billion) in payroll tax on companies in exchange for hiring.

First female mayor of Paris takes office

The first female mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo formally took office on Saturday with a pledge to alleviate a housing shortage in the French capital. The Spanish-born Socialist took up the post after a City Hall vote to rubber-stamp her victory in municipal elections on Sunday. An old school feminist socialist, Hidalgo, 54, has spent the last 13 years as a low-profile deputy to outgoing mayor Bertrand Delanoe. She now joins an exclusive club of women who have taken charge of major cities around the world.

New French government seeks confidence vote to save reform

By Alexandria Sage PARIS (Reuters) - France's newly formed government will seek a confidence vote from parliament on Tuesday, a step that would allow it to press ahead with President Francois Hollande's business reforms to spur growth without having to risk a separate vote. New Prime Minister Manuel Valls approved the vote during his first cabinet meeting as his reshuffled team of 16 Socialist ministers strives to present a united front after the Greens party broke away from the coalition over energy policy.

Marquis de Sade manuscript finally returned to France

The original scroll on which the Marquis de Sade wrote the draft of his novel on sexual depravity, murder and paedophilia "The 120 Days of Sodom" has finally been returned to France following years of legal wrangling. The parchment piece -- originally recovered from a cell wall at Paris's Bastille prison -- will go on display in the city from September to mark the bicentenary of the eighteenth century nobleman's death.

Marquis de Sade manuscript is returned to France

The original scroll on which the Marquis de Sade wrote the draft of his novel of sexual depravity, murder and paedophilia "The 120 Days of Sodom" has been returned to France following years of legal wrangling. The parchment piece -- recovered from a cell wall at Paris's Bastille prison -- will go on display in the city from September to mark the bicentenary of the eighteenth century nobleman's death.

ECB's Draghi takes swipe at IMF over policy recommendations

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European Central Bank President Mario Draghi swatted away suggestions from the International Monetary Fund that his bank should ease monetary policy further on Thursday, questioning the timing of the Fund's most recent comments. "The IMF has been of recent extremely generous in its suggestions on what we should do or not do, and we are really thankful for that," Draghi told a news conference after the ECB's monthly policy meeting.
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