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German lawmakers approved Greece's hard-won bailout extension Friday in a move the finance minister called "not easy" but necessary, removing the last hurdle to keep crucial international aid flowing to Athens. Despite scepticism in Europe's top economy, the four-month reprieve for Greece won overwhelming backing as expected in the lower house of parliament where Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right coalition commands a crushing majority. Germany's deeply pro-European Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had vigorously urged MPs to approve the breathing space for debt-wracked Greece, stressing Athens must also live up to its promises.
Beijing has imposed a one-year ban on imports of ivory carvings, but questions remained Friday on its effect on rising Chinese demand, which critics say could push wild African elephants to extinction within a generation. The move comes days ahead of a visit to China by Britain's Prince William, who has campaigned against illegal wildlife trafficking and is expected to speak on the issue during a stop in the southwestern province of Yunnan next Wednesday. The measure took effect Thursday and was announced by China's State Forestry Administration in a statement posted on its website. China is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), but conservationists say it is the world's largest consumer of illegal ivory, with skyrocketing demand leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.