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US names Uzra Zeya as Tibet coordinator, drawing warning from China

The United States on Monday named Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya as special coordinator for Tibet, drawing warnings from China to stay out of its internal affairs.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Zeya, who is responsible for democracy and human rights, would lead US efforts to preserve the Chinese-ruled territory’s religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage in the face of human rights abuses by Beijing.

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Beijing has consistently refused to deal with a US coordinator on Tibet and denounced the move as political manipulation.
“By naming a special coordinator for Tibetan issues, the US is interfering with China’s domestic affairs,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
“China firmly rejects this, and we will never recognize this designation. We urge the US to take concrete actions to abide by its commitment of recognizing Tibet as part of China and not supporting Tibet’s independence, and stop using Tibetan-related issues to interfere in China’s domestic affairs.”
Blinken said Zeya would seek to promote dialogue between China and Tibet’s spiritual leader-in-exile, the Dalai Lama, or democratically elected Tibetan leaders.
“She will lead US efforts to preserve the religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage of Tibetans who are facing human rights abuses and challenges to their livelihoods and environment,” Blinken said in a tweet.
China reacted angrily last year and accused the United States of seeking to destabilize Tibet after the administration of former US President Donald Trump appointed Zeya’s predecessor to the same role.
US-China relations have been at their lowest point in decades over a range of issues, including trade, Taiwan, Hong Kong, human rights, the South China Sea and the coronavirus.
China seized control of Tibet after its troops entered the region in 1950 in what it calls a “peaceful liberation”. Tibet has since become one of the most restricted areas in the country. Critics, led by the Dalai Lama, say Beijing's rule amounts to “cultural genocide.”
China denies wrongdoing in Tibet and says its intervention ended “backward feudal serfdom.”
The International Campaign for Tibet advocacy group welcomed Zeya's new role and in an emailed statement its interim president, Bhuchung Tsering, urged Zeya to take the lead in gathering support from like-minded countries to formulate a common approach on Tibet, as mandated by the Tibetan Policy and Support Act passed in the United States last year.

Read more: Biden raised concerns over Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang; Xi warns of Taiwan ‘red line’

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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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