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US President Biden to visit Asia to build united front on North Korea, Russia

Visiting Asia next month for the first time since becoming US president in 2021, Joe Biden will hold talks with allies in Japan and South Korea over China’s growing influence in the region and the latest threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

“The leaders will discuss opportunities to deepen our vital security relationships, enhance economic ties, and expand our close cooperation to deliver practical results,” the White House said in a statement.

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Biden will meet South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol on May 21, during a three-day visit that comes shortly after Yoon’s swearing-in on May 10, Yonhap news agency reported.

The US president will travel to Japan on May 22, where he will meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, before both leaders attend a gathering of the Quad security group along with their counterparts from Australia and India.

Biden’s trip to Asia comes at a time when Washington is seeking to reinforce unity and commitment among allies in response to both Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and China’s growing economic and security influence in the region.

North Korea is expected to be a key topic for discussion in both Seoul and Tokyo, as Pyongyang is outlining an expansive new doctrine for nuclear weapons use.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has threatened to use nuclear weapons to strike anyone who violates the North’s “fundamental interests.”

North Korea resumed testing of its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for the first time since 2017 last month, and Seoul and Washington officials say it may be preparing for a new round of nuclear tests.

Yoon and Biden will hold in-depth discussions on a broad range of issues including developing the alliance between the United States and South Korea, “policy coordination on North Korea, economic security, and major regional and international affairs,” Yoon’s spokesperson Bae Hyun-jin said.

During his election campaign, Yoon pledged to bolster South Korea’s defense capability to counter North Korea’s threats.

In Tokyo, Biden and Kishida will seek ways to build on their ties to further peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a briefing.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a unilateral attempt by force to change the status quo and a huge shock to the international order, and … it’s essential to further strengthen the US-Japan alliance and verify the ties that will allow us to work towards a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

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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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