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Taiwan to join ‘democratic countries’ in sanctions on Russia

Taiwan will join “democratic countries” in putting sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Friday, with the world’s largest contract chipmaker TSMC adding it would comply with all export control rules.

The crisis is being watched closely in Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and which has faced increased military pressure from Beijing over the last two years.

“We very harshly condemn such an act of invasion and will join democratic countries to jointly impose sanctions,” Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters in Taipei without giving details.

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Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said the island will “harshly scrutinize” exports to Russia and “coordinate” with unspecified allies on further actions. She also did not elaborate.

The foreign ministry said in a statement the island, which is key to the global semiconductor supply chain, will “coordinate closely with the United States and other like-minded countries to adopt appropriate measures in order to free Ukraine from the horrors of war.”

Asked about the sanctions, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), a major Apple Inc supplier and Asia’s most valuable listed company, said it would follow export control rules.

“TSMC complies with all applicable laws and regulations and is fully committed to complying with the new export control rules announced,” it said in a statement.

“The company also has a rigorous export control system in place, including a robust assessment and review process to ensure export control restrictions are followed.”

Russia is not a major market for Taiwan’s goods. Taiwan’s trade with Ukraine and Russia each accounted for less than one percent of its total, government data showed.

The island’s natural gas contract with Russia is due to expire in March and Taiwan will diversify its supplies, the economic ministry said on Thursday.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, speaking at an event in the southern city of Tainan, reiterated that Taiwan and Ukraine’s situations were not the same, and that the Taiwan Strait formed a “natural barrier.”

The Taiwan military’s continuous improvement in its combat power, as well as the high attention paid to the region by “friendly and allied countries” give strong confidence in maintaining security, she added.

“We must also consolidate our psychological defenses, strengthen preventive cognitive warfare operations, and prevent foreign forces and local collaborators from using false information to create panic and affect the morale of Taiwanese society by using Ukraine’s turbulent situation.”

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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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