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Ukraine hails Turkey drone deal, Erdogan offer to mediate in Russia standoff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday welcomed an offer from visiting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to mediate in Kyiv’s standoff with Moscow, and Erdogan promised to do whatever he could to end the crisis peacefully.
In a move likely to grate with Moscow, Zelenskiy also trumpeted a deal enabling Ukrainian factories to produce Turkish drones that have already been deployed in Ukraine’s war against Russia-backed rebels in its eastern Donbass region.
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Turkey and Ukraine, which are maritime Black Sea neighbors, signed a series of agreements including a free trade deal that Kyiv says will boost bilateral annual commerce to about $10 billion over five years from $7 billion now.
“I would like to thank President Erdogan for his initiative to become a mediator between Ukraine and Russia on the way to ending the war," Zelenskiy said. The two presidents gave no details of their talks on Russia and took no questions.
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Reuters the drones deal created “favorable conditions for Turkish manufacturers to build a drone factory in Ukraine so that we can produce the entire line of drones and get their high technologies.”
Russia has accused Kyiv of “destructive” behavior after its forces last October used a Bayraktar TB2 drone to strike a position controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Erdogan is the latest leader of a NATO country to visit Kyiv after the premiers of the Netherlands, Poland and Britain, part of efforts to show Western solidarity with Ukraine as Russia masses more than 100,000 troops near their shared border.
Turkey has good ties with Kyiv and Moscow but has said it would do what is necessary as a NATO member if Russia invades. A Turkish official said Erdogan was not picking any side.
“Our visit comes at a sensitive time. I want to state that we continue to support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Crimea,” Erdogan said, referring to the region annexed by Russia in 2014.
Russia denies Western suggestions that it plans to invade Ukraine but it has demanded sweeping security guarantees including a ban on Ukraine ever joining NATO. It says it could take unspecified military measures if its demands are not met.
Turkish diplomatic sources have said Russia and Ukraine are both open to Ankara’s offer of mediation. Turkey has opposed the sanctions threatened by other NATO members in the event of a Russian military incursion.
While forging cooperation on defense and energy, Turkey has opposed Moscow’s policies in Syria and Libya, as well as the Crimea annexation.
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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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