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GCC-UK foreign ministers commit to forge stronger ties

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states and the secretary general of the GCC on Monday at Chevening House, where they agreed to strengthen their relationship across all fields, according to a joint communique.

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“We have agreed to build stronger ties with the Gulf to create jobs, drive growth and make us all safer,” Truss wrote in a tweet.

In the communique, Truss and GCC foreign ministers “strongly condemned” the Iran-backed Houthis militia’s repeated attacks against civilians in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.


The UK and GCC foreign ministers expressed grave concern about the escalation in Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

They discussed the resumption of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) talks in Vienna and “underlined that this is the last opportunity to restore the JCPoA as Iran’s continued nuclear escalation is permanently eroding the benefits of the deal and undermining regional and international security,” according to the communique.

“They called on the new Iranian administration to play a positive regional role, abide by international norms, respect their neighbors’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, and refrain from supporting militant groups,” the communique added.

The ministers also condemned “the proliferation of advanced ballistic missiles” and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) used by Iran and its proxies in hundreds of attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in the region.

Truss met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Sabah, the Secretary General of the GCC Nayef al-Hajraf, and the United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to the United Nations Lana Nusseibeh.

During the meeting, the UK and GCC foreign ministers emphasized the importance of enhancing people-to-people links, the joint statement read.

The ministers highlighted their belief that this ambitious strategic partnership between the UK and GCC member states is essential in promoting peace, security, stability and economic growth in the Middle East region and beyond, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office stated.

According to the communique, the ministers have committed to expand GCC-UK shared ambition and develop the partnership in emerging areas such as clean technology, digital infrastructure and cyber, in order to “help keep UK and GCC citizens safe, and generate business opportunities and jobs”.

The foreign ministers of the UK and GCC also agreed to strengthen security and economic relations, paving the way for an era of closer cooperation in trade, cybersecurity and investment in green infrastructure in low and middle-income countries.

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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

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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