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Taiwan will be sending 65 men to serve their alternative military service to 14 countries, for the first time including Somaliland, the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

The number of individuals serving had recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and reached earlier levels, CNA reported. Of the destinations on the list, only Fiji and Somaliland were not official diplomatic allies.

Taiwan and Somaliland have faced international isolation since exchanging representative offices in 2020 and have further improved ties since then while stopping short of developing formal relations.

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Following a basic course, the 65 recruits are participating in four weeks of preparatory training scheduled to end Oct. 28, said Y.C. Tsai, director general of MOFA’s Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs.

He said the young men would travel overseas to destinations ranging from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean and Paraguay in South America from early November.

Alternative overseas service lasts 10 months, while the government is considering extending military conscription from four months back to 10 months, possibly beginning in 2024.

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