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Ship tragedy threatens environment, tourism

GIGLIO, Italy (AP) -- Residents of the Italian island of Giglio held a strategy meeting Monday as fears mounted about threats to the environment and their prized tourism industry from the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship lying off the coast.

Officials have ruled out finding anyone else alive more than two weeks after the ship hit a reef. At least 17 people were killed, and 16 are listed as missing. Worries are now focusing on the impact that the disaster could have on the pristine Tuscan region, especially if tons of fuel and chemical pollutants spill from the ship.

About 500,000 gallons of heavy fuel and other pollutants are in danger of leaking out of the ship, threatening the livelihoods of local fishermen.

The gathering of residents came a day after Franco Gabrielli, head of Italy's civil protection agency, said that it could take a seven to 10 months to remove the massive ship. Experts say that it will take a month to remove the fuel alone.

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NATO affirms pullout in Afghanistan by '14

BRUSSELS (AP) -- NATO's top official said Monday that the alliance will adhere to its plans to hand over security to local forces in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, comments that came after France said it would push NATO to speed up its

timeline for the handover of combat operations by a year.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the NATO plan is still pegged on a 2014 pullout. He spoke after a meeting with Romanian President Traian Basescu.

Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy jolted NATO by announcing that France would speed up its exit and ask NATO to end its combat mission in 2013. The announcement came after an Afghan soldier killed four French soldiers Jan. 20.