Ash forces countries to miss EU talks

A crater spewing ash and plumes of grit at the summit of the volcano in Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier. (AP)

China, Japan and Russia and five other Asian nations are missing finance talks with the European Union in Madrid after a volcanic ash cloud grounded flights across Europe. Only 10 out of 18 nations due to come to the talks managed to send a delegation – and four of those were counting on local embassy officials to represent finance ministers. French and German ministers also skipped home early, reportedly taking a flight to Marseilles, one of the few French airports till open.

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