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story.lead_photo.caption French soldiers work Monday to clear the area around Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Authorities said they plan to resume decontamination and cleanup work next week at the fire-dam- aged site, after new equipment and safety procedures ensure workers are not exposed to unsafe levels of lead.

U.S. group working on Syria safe zone

ISTANBUL -- Turkey says a U.S. delegation has arrived in the country to set up a coordination center for a so-called safe zone in Syria, part of an agreement struck last week that appeared to avert a possible new Turkish incursion into Syria.

Turkey's defense ministry tweeted Monday that six Americans arrived in the southeastern Sanliurfa province and said the center would be activated soon.

Ankara seeks to push out U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish militias from border areas inside Syria, considering them terrorists aligned with a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. These Syrian Kurdish forces are allied with the U.S., and had fought the Islamic State extremist group in the area.

Last week's agreement to set up the joint operations center did not specify whether the region would be cleared of the Kurdish fighters.

Arab states can secure gulf, Iraqi says

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's foreign minister says Iraq and Gulf Arab states don't need foreign powers to secure navigation in the Persian Gulf as that would only increase regional tensions.

Mohammed al-Hakim tweeted Monday that regional states are capable of securing the strategic waterway themselves.

Al-Hakim's tweet was in response to efforts by President Donald Trump's administration to set up a U.S.-led naval security mission in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran's recent seizures of vessels have raised tensions with the West. The U.S. wants an international coalition to monitor and potentially escort commercial ships there.

Al-Hakim stressed Israel's participation in such a mission was unacceptable. It's not clear whether Israel has been asked to participate.

Iraq returns remains of lost Kuwaitis

SAFWAN, Iraq -- Iraq on Thursday handed over to Kuwait the remains of 48 of its citizens who vanished after Saddam Hussein's invasion of the country 28 years ago and subsequent Gulf War.

Kuwait says hundreds of people disappeared during Iraq's seven-month occupation, and the issue has remained a sticking point between the two countries. The remains, which were put in caskets and wrapped in Kuwaiti flags, were handed over to Kuwaiti authorities at the Safwan border crossing at a ceremony attended by officials from the two neighboring countries.

"The Iraqi government is determined to find all the remaining missing Kuwaitis [in Iraq] and hand them over to the Kuwaiti authorities and consequently to their families," said Maj. Gen. Hazim Qassim, a representative of the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

Kuwait's national news agency confirmed the Gulf state on Thursday received human remains said to belong to slain Kuwaiti prisoners of war. The remains were found in March at a mass grave in the desert west of the city of Samawa, south of Baghdad.

Death toll from China typhoon hits 45

BEIJING -- The death toll from a typhoon in eastern China has risen to 45, with an estimated 16 people missing.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Monday that five people have died and seven remain missing in Shandong province after Typhoon Lekima traveled up the eastern seaboard.

The typhoon forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 people in Shandong and inflicted losses of $211 million.

Another 39 died and nine are unaccounted for in Zhejiang province, and one died in neighboring Anhui.

Heavy downpours and floods were still battering Shandong on Monday. Rescue efforts were underway.

The commercial hub of Shanghai also experienced heavy wind and rain, while Beijing to the north saw clear skies on Monday after rain over the weekend. Floods have also struck northeastern Manchuria.

U.N. studying cyberattacks by N. Korea

UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Korea using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for its nuclear program.

Last week, The Associated Press reported that North Korea illegally acquired "as much as two billion dollars" from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges, quoting the experts' summary.

Their lengthy report reveals that neighboring South Korea was the victim of 10 cyberattacks, followed by India with three, and Bangladesh and Chile with two each.

Thirteen countries suffered one attack -- Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam, the report said.

--COMPILED BY DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE REPORTS

Photo by AP/ARMANDO FRANCA
Striking tanker-truck drivers watch Monday as a fellow driver leaves a fuel depot in Aveiras, Portugal. The country is rationing gas as a precaution after about 2,000 drivers began an open-ended strike to push for higher pay.

A Section on 08/13/2019

Print Headline: U.S. group working on Syria safe zone Arab states can secure gulf, Iraqi says Iraq returns remains of lost Kuwaitis Death toll from China typhoon hits 45 U.N. studying cyberattacks by N. Korea

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