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story.lead_photo.caption A military band attends the opening ceremony Saturday of the Dominican Republic Embassy in Beijing.

Caribbean nation opens Beijing embassy

BEIJING -- The Dominican Republic opened its embassy in Beijing Saturday, months after cutting ties with Taiwan amid a Chinese diplomatic offensive that aims to politically isolate the island it claims as its own territory.

Speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Caribbean island nation's decision to switch diplomatic relations to Beijing "serves the fundamental interests of the Dominican people and completely conforms to the trend of the times."

Both the Dominican Republic and El Salvador broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan earlier this year as Beijing steps up diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to endorse its stand that Taiwan is a part of China.

Only 17 mainly small, developing countries still recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. Taiwan split from mainland China during a civil war in 1949. China considers the self-governing island to be part of its territory.

Needed supplies arrive at Syrian camp

BEIRUT -- A convoy of 78 trucks carrying life-saving assistance reached a remote camp for the displaced on Syria's border with Jordan on Saturday, where tens of thousands of people are stranded in the desert with dwindling supplies.

The United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said their joint convoy reached Rukban camp and would deliver assistance to 50,000 people. The convoy was supposed to arrive last month but was delayed due to logistics and security concerns. The U.N. said the operation is expected to last three to four days.

The camp is home to around 45,000 people, many of them women and children, who are camped out in extremely dire conditions. At least four people have died in the past month due to malnutrition and lack of medical care as regional powers trade blame over who is responsible.

"We are delivering food, sanitation and hygiene supplies, nutrition and health assistance in addition to other core relief items in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent," said Ali Al-Za'tari, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator in Syria. He said an emergency vaccination campaign to protect some 10,000 children against deadly diseases would also be conducted.

People started gathering in Rukban three years ago, fleeing Islamic State militants and airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, Russia and Syria. Jordan sealed its border and stopped regular aid deliveries in 2016 after a cross-border Islamic State attack that killed seven Jordanian soldiers.

Irish premier: EU exit threatens peace

LONDON -- The U.K.'s exit from the European Union is undermining Northern Ireland's hard-won peace by creating tensions between Catholic and Protestant communities, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Saturday, even as hopes rose for a solution to the Irish border problem that has deadlocked negotiations.

"Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement" -- the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland -- "and it is fraying relationships between Britain and Ireland," Varadkar said.

"Anything that pulls the two communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship," he told Ireland's RTE radio.

Both Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other barriers that could disrupt businesses and residents or undermine Northern Ireland's peace. But they haven't agreed on how to guarantee that -- and Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29.

After meeting Friday with Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney in Dublin, British Prime Minister Theresa May's deputy David Lidington said negotiators were "very close" to an agreement.

Nun calls on Filipinos to fight abuses

MANILA, Philippines -- An Australian nun who angered the Philippine president by joining anti-government protests used her final hours in the country Saturday to call on Filipinos to unite and fight human-rights abuses.

Sister Patricia Anne Fox left the Philippines for Australia on Saturday night, immigration officials said. The Bureau of Immigration ordered her deportation in July, put her on a blacklist and then downgraded her missionary visa to a temporary visitor's visa, which expired Saturday.

President Rodrigo Duterte has bristled at criticism of his leadership, particularly by foreigners, who he says have no right to meddle in Philippine domestic affairs. Most of the criticism has focused on his bloody anti-drug campaign, which has left thousands dead and prompted two complaints of mass murder before the International Criminal Court.

During a farewell news conference in a Catholic school before leaving for the Manila airport with a convoy of supporters, the 71-year-old Fox called on Filipinos to speak up and help the marginalized fight to gain land, houses and jobs.

"The big challenge now is not to lose hope, to know that if we all move together, we can bring about change," Fox said.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

Australian nun Sister Patricia Anne Fox bids goodbye to sup- porters Saturday in the Philippines as she is escorted to the airport in Manila for her flight home.

A Section on 11/04/2018

Print Headline: Caribbean nation opens Beijing embassy Needed supplies arrive at Syrian camp Brexit threatens Northern Ireland peace Nun calls on Filipinos to fight abuses Irish leader: EU exit threatens peace

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