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Taliban, Myanmar regime unlikely to be let into UN for now, say diplomats

A United Nations committee meeting on Wednesday is unlikely to allow Afghanistan’s Taliban or Myanmar’s junta to represent their countries at the 193-member world body, say diplomats.
Rival claims have been made for the seats of both countries with the Taliban and Myanmar’s junta pitted against ambassadors appointed by the governments they ousted this year. UN acceptance of the Taliban or Myanmar’s junta would be a step toward the international recognition sought by both.

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A nine-member UN credentials committee, which includes Russia, China and the United States, will meet at UN headquarters to consider the credentials of all 193 members for the current session of the UN General Assembly.
The committee will likely defer its decisions on the representation of Afghanistan and Myanmar on the understanding that the current ambassadors for both countries remain in the seats, four diplomats told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
The committee — which also includes the Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Sweden — will then send its report on the credentials of all members to the UN General Assembly for approval before the end of the year.
Both the committee and the General Assembly traditionally take decisions on credentials by consensus, diplomats say.

Leverage

The Taliban, which seized power in mid-August from the internationally-recognized government, has nominated its Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador. The current UN. ambassador appointed by the ousted government, Ghulam Isaczai, has also asked to keep the seat.
When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 the ambassador of the government they toppled remained the UN representative after the credentials committee deferred its decision on rival claims to the seat.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the Taliban’s desire for international recognition is the only leverage other countries have to press for inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s nominated UN envoy Shaheen posted on Twitter earlier this month: “We have all the conditions needed for occupying the seat of Afghanistan at UN. We hope legal requirements will supersede political preferences.”
Myanmar’s junta, which seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February, has put forward military veteran Aung Thurein to be its UN envoy.
Current Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun — appointed by Suu Kyi’s government — has also asked to renew his UN accreditation, despite being the target of a plot to kill or injure him over his opposition to the coup.
The former UN special envoy on Myanmar, who stepped down last month, warned that no country should recognize or legitimize the junta, while Guterres pledged in February to mobilize pressure “to make sure that this coup fails.”

Read more: In test, UN bypasses Taliban to pay $8 mln in salaries to Afghan health workers

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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