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PROTESTING TRUCKERS CLOG BERLIN

Thousands of German truckers protesting higher gas prices clogged the streets around the capital's center today demanding relief from high gas prices. The government offered low-interest loans to some trucking companies.

Transport Minister Reinhard Klimmt said the loans would be given to mid-sized trucking companies based in Germany that are running into cash shortages because of spiraling fuel costs. The step comes on top of concessions offered by the government last week to commuters.

Protests were also held today in Spain and Greece, part of a monthlong series of demonstrations across Europe against the high cost of fuel.

By morning, about 2,000 trucks had blocked the avenue that runs through Berlin's central Tiergarten park to the Brandenburg Gate, where 5,000 trucks were expected for a demonstration calling on Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government to relax an "ecology tax" that, along with higher oil prices, has led to more expensive gas.

Schroeder has repeatedly said he would not cut the ecological tax.

Police said traffic chaos was avoided because many commuters heeded warnings about tie-ups and stayed off the roads.

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