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Voice of America, 00-07-05

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: A third-round of U-N mediated talks about reconciling the divided island of Cyprus is being held in Geneva. Lisa Schlein reports that U-N Secretary- General, Kofi Annan, kicked off the proceedings by holding separate talks with Greek Cypriot President, Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash.

    TEXT: The meeting is being held amid heightened tensions triggered by a dispute over U-N peacekeepers. The Turkish Cypriots have imposed restrictions on the peacekeepers in protest over the wording of a U-N Security Council resolution extending the mandate of the mission. The dispute has poisoned the atmosphere, and observers believe prospects for a breakthrough on reconciling the divided Greek and Cypriot communities are dim. U-N Mediator Alvaro de Soto is anxious to steer the talks away from this controversy. He says the matter of the U-N peacekeepers is being dealt with on Cyprus. He says the talks in Geneva will concentrate on core issues. To ensure that they go on in a productive manner, Mr. De Soto says a news blackout will be imposed on the proceedings.

    /// DE SOTO ACT ///

    Anyone who has ever dealt with the Cyprus question is aware of the tendency of, sometimes, very small issues to spiral entirely out of proportion and produce controversy. And, we want to avoid this.

    /// END ACT ///

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece. Since then, there have been numerous efforts to reunite the island. All have failed. Chances of achieving a settlement now appear doomed. Before the talks began, Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, bluntly said nothing would come out of the talks. These so-called proximity talks are being mediated by the U-N because the parties refuse to meet face-to- face. Mr. De Soto says he expects difficult times ahead. He says even U-N Secretary-General, Kofi Annan no longer believes a quick settlement is possible.

    /// 2nd de SOTO ACT ///

    The Secretary-General would, I think, very much hope for an important and qualitative move in the direction of a comprehensive settlement in the course of this year. Whether we will be able to get a comprehensive settlement in the course of this year as such, I think, is probably not likely. But, that does not mean that we cannot make some very important progress.

    /// END ACT ///

    The four core issues under discussion include questions of security, territory, distribution of powers, and territorial exchanges. No date has been given for the end of this round of talks. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LS/GE/RAE 05-Jul-2000 09:23 AM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1323 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders pledged today/Wednesday to make a sustained effort to find a peace settlement for their divided island. Lisa Schlein reports from Geneva on the third round of talks aimed at reconciling differences between the Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus.

    TEXT: The Cyprus dispute has been going on for 26 years. Yet, Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, refuse to meet face-to-face to try to find a political solution. U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan was forced to open this round of talks by holding separate meetings with each of the leaders. Mr. Denktash calls his meeting with the secretary general very useful and says he is prepared to get down to serious business.

    /// DENKTASH ACT ///

    The Greek press has continuously alleged that we are not serious at these talks. So, I informed the secretary general that we brought the result of our very good preparations, which cover 15 chapters of work, and we are very much interested in serious negotiations and we hope the other side also is.

    /// END ACT ///

    Turkey invaded the northern third of Cyprus in 1974 to counter a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece. Turkey maintains 30-thousand troops in the northern enclave and is the only country to recognize its legitimacy. The administration of Greek Cypriot President Clerides is recognized internationally as the government of Cyprus. These U-N mediated talks in Geneva are the latest in a series of failed efforts to get the two hostile, separate communities to reunite as one nation. Secretary General Annan says he has received assurances from the two leaders that they are committed to the negotiations.

    /// ANNAN ACT ///

    We discussed the approach and the fact that we are going to make a sustained effort to try and find a solution to this crisis over the next couple of months. I did also appeal to the leaders to respect a strict blackout of the substance of issues under discussion as well as procedures.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Denktash has informed the United Nations that he will be going home next week to commemorate the 1974 invasion of Cyprus. Mr. Annan says he expects counter-demonstrations to take place in the Greek- controlled southern part of the island. He says he has appealed to both parties to hold low-key ceremonies and not to do or say anything to inflame tensions while the negotiations are going on. (Signed)
    NEB/LS/GE/JP 05-Jul-2000 14:41 PM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1841 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: An appeals court in Turkey has upheld a one- year prison sentence imposed on Turkey's first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, the former leader was convicted on charges of "provoking hatred" in a speech he gave six years ago.

    TEXT: Mr. Erbakan -- in his speech in a mainly Kurdish region -- criticized Turkey's secular establishment, described pro-secular members of parliament as "infidels," and criticized the fact that Turkish school children begin their school day reciting nationalist slogans and not verses from the Koran. He was found guilty in March of charges that the speech provoked racial or religious hatred. Even Turkey's present prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, expressed dismay with Wednesday's appeals court ruling, which means that the 74-year-old former prime minister will in all probability be sent to jail. Officials say he probably would serve five months. The sentence is only the latest in a series of setbacks suffered by Necmettin Erbakan and the Isalmist movement that he founded nearly four decades ago. Mr. Erbakan was banned from politics for five years and his Islamist Welfare Party shut down in 1998 after he had served one year as Turkey's first Islamist prime minister. Mr. Erbakan was forced to step down in 1997 after a prolonged standoff with the leaders of Turkey's military, who accused him of seeking to introduce Islamic rule. Turkey's military-backed, pro-secular establishment has since kept up pressure on the Islamists. The Virtue Party, under which the Islamists regrouped, is also facing closure over charges is that it is no more than the continuation of the old Welfare Party. It is a charge that may well stick because despite his political bans, Mr. Erbakan has sought to maintain control over the Islamist movement. His handpicked successor and Virtue Party chairman, Recai Kutan, was re-elected last May, thanks largely to Mr. Erbakan's personal intervention on his behalf.

    /// Opt ///

    Still, opposition against Mr. Erbakan within the movement is gaining force. The so-called moderate wing of the party, led by Virtue Party lawmaker Abdullah Gul, confounded even the most seasoned pundits by losing the leadership vote in May by a very small percentage of votes. /// End Opt /// Analysts say Mr. Erbakan's conviction will likely provoke a wave of sympathy from the party faithful. More importantly, they say, it is likely to trigger harsh criticism from western governments and the European Union, which Turkey would like to join. One of the main reasons cited by E-U members for not accepting Turkey's membership is its poor human rights records. Hundreds of politicians, academics, and writers continue to be jailed for views they expressed either verbally or in writing. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/JWH/JP 05-Jul-2000 10:12 AM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1412 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Commission has expressed regret about Austrian government's decision to hold a referendum about the diplomatic sanctions the other 14 members of the European Union maintain against Austria. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels that there also is concern about Austria's threat to hold up Union business.

    TEXT: The threats are more veiled from Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. If the tensions in the family are not resolved soon, the chancellor warns, the day-to-day work simply becomes more difficult. Former Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider is more direct. If the sanctions are not lifted, Austria should use its veto power within the European Union to block reform initiatives by France, the current six- month president of the European Union. The European Commission conducts the day-to-day business of the European Union and it has tried to keep Austria in the "family," apart from the diplomatic isolation maintained against it by the 14 other E-U governments. Commission spokesman Peter Guilford says threats to hold up European Union business could end up hurting Austria itself.

    /// Guilford Act ///

    If a referendum led to -- and here there are many ifs before this happens -- but if it led to anything like blocking European legislation, we believe that past experience shows that is counter-productive and it backfires on the country concerned.

    /// End Act ///

    /// Begin Opt ///

    Mr. Guilford recalled attempts by Britain to block European Union business in 1996, and says countries soon find out that they gain more from European Union membership than they do from blocking E-U initiatives.

    /// Guilford Act ///

    It's a simple mathematical fact: you are in the Community because you think you stand to gain more than you lose. The points you want to achieve outnumber the points you want to block. So if you ever take a decision to block on principle, de facto you end up blocking things that you originally supported.

    /// End Act ///

    /// End Opt ///

    One issue highlighted by Austria is that of European Union enlargement and the institutional reform processes needed to achieve it. Austria originally supported enlargement to include its neighbors in Central Europe, but because of its dispute over diplomatic sanctions, it could try to halt the process. Next week, Chancellor Schuessel pays his first visit to the European Commission since he took office. That will be an opportunity for him to discuss what Austria plans to do to help or hinder Commission business. The 14 other governments in the European Union have appointed three experts to draw up a report on the Austrian government's treatment of human rights and the political nature of Chancellor Schuessel's coalition partner, the right-wing Freedom Party. The plan sets no deadline for the experts to report. Austria plans to hold its referendum on the European Union either on October 29th or November 26th, depending on how fast the experts make their report -- and whether the other 14 governments remove the sanctions they imposed last February when the Freedom Party joined the Austrian government. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/JP 05-Jul-2000 11:33 AM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1533 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Commission is recommending substantial change in way the European Union (E-U) imports bananas. As V-O-A's Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels, the changes are needed to make E-U trading practices conform to rulings by the World Trade Organization.

    TEXT: The way the European Union imports bananas is becoming expensive. Supported by World Trade Organization rulings, the United States imposes 191- million dollars worth of sanctions to punish the European Union for giving preference to bananas exported from its former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean. American firms market bananas from Ecuador and Central America and they have resisted previous attempts by the European Union to make small changes in the import rules. Since no agreement has been possible, the European Commission is now proposing a first-come, first served system of import licenses for bananas. There would be a transition period until 2006, when the European Union would switch to a so-called, "tariff only" system. A system of "tariffs only" is the only one certain to be approved by the World Trade Organization. The European commissioner for trade, Pascal Lamy, says the United States is well aware of the European Union's difficulty in constructing an import regime for bananas. He tells reporters in Strasbourg, France that he is more concerned about the pressure the U-S companies, Chiquita and Dole, are putting on the Clinton Administration.

    /// Lamy Act ///

    We hope, at the end of the day, the pressure which the two main operators, American operators, are making on the U-S Administration will turn into what I previously called, rationale behavior.

    /// End Act ///

    Whether the European Union's new proposals will be acceptable to the United States is still to be determined. The commission's new strategy has to be approved by European Union ministers who meet in Brussels on Monday.

    /// OPT ///

    France, Britain, Spain, Portugal and Italy -- those countries wanting to give preference to their former colonies -- may have reservations about abandoning a system that gives African and Caribbean countries a historical preference. /// END OPT /// Mr. Lamy, this time speaking in French with an interpreter, says the ministers have to understand that the European Union must comply with World Trade Organization rules.

    /// Lamy Act in French w/ interpreter ///

    We realize that a number of member states are not particularly enthusiastic as regards a "tariff only" system. We didn't fail to recognize that. But we have a mandate saying member states gave us that mandate to find a system which would be in compliance with the W- T-O rules and if we do find one which isn't "tariffs only" to start with, fair enough.

    /// End Act ///

    More negotiations are needed to see if "first-come, first served" can satisfy both the United States and the banana producers from Africa and the Caribbean. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/JP 05-Jul-2000 12:41 PM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1641 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    //// UPDATES CR 2-264077, MEETING OVER. /////

    INTRO: International donors have pledged 715-million dollars to assure the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine - a much higher sum than originally expected. Jonathan Braude reports from Berlin.

    TEXT: The major industrialized countries and the European Union contributed millions more than expected towards the repair of the leaking Soviet-built concrete cover around the Chernobyl Number-Four reactor. Delegates (to the meeting in Berlin) said the pledge of 715-million dollars - including 80-million dollars from the United States - is a reward for the Ukraine government's decision to close the remaining reactor at the Chernobyl site by the end of the year. The reactor's old unsafe technology continues to pose a threat to the rest of Europe. Now, though, the question is what does Ukraine do next? The Ukraine government wants to complete two modern pressurized-water reactors, but Germany wants it to switch to gas or coal-fired power plants. (SIGNED)
    NEB/JB/JWH/RAE 05-Jul-2000 09:37 AM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1337 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Police and political leaders in Northern Ireland are urging an end to street protests after a third night of rioting and violence. But Lourdes Navarro reports from London that leaders of the hard- line Protestant Orange Order, that supports union with Great Britain, say their rallies will not end.

    TEXT: Protestant political leaders have denounced the violence in the town of Drumcree and have urged Protestant hard-liners to call off their protests. Now that there is a political peace in Northern Ireland, leaders say the violence symbolizes the province's troubled past and not its more promising future. Despite the appeal, clashes triggered by a ban on Protestants marching through a mainly Roman Catholic neighborhood this Sunday - one of the most important days in Northern Ireland's Protestant marching season look set to continue. Overnight, a mob of more than 500-people hurled firecrackers and rocks, and squirted acid from syringes at rows of police. For the first time since the 1970's in Northern Ireland, the police used water cannons to quell the crowd. Gunfire also erupted between police and a Protestant hard-liner in Belfast. Police say nine officers were injured during the confrontations. Leaders of the Protestant Orange Order, who are organizing Sunday's march, say that they will continue to call for rallies in the area until the ban is lifted. They say they have a right to follow the parade route during their traditional marching season when they celebrate ancient victories over Catholics. Catholic residents of Drumcree call the marches antagonistic. Britain has sent in two-thousand extra troops to bolster police forces in Northern Ireland. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LN/GE/RAE 05-Jul-2000 08:43 AM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1243 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Profit warnings by high-technology companies pulled the U-S stock market lower today (Wednesday). VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 75 points, three-quarters of one percent, closing at 10- thousand-483. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed 23 points lower - a loss of almost two percent. And the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite dropped more than three percent, after several software companies delivered profit warnings. The big slide started with business software maker Computer Associates, whose stock plunged over 40 percent. The company blamed its earnings shortfall on weaker sales in Europe. Shares of I-B-M, the computer giant and largest maker of mainframes (large business computers), fell in reaction to the falling fortunes of Computer Associates. Computer chip-makers also dragged the market lower. A leading brokerage firm downgraded several chip stocks, warning the chip-making industry is on the verge of slowing down.

    ///REST OPT for long///

    Meanwhile, Wall Street is waiting for the next piece of the economic picture to fall into place - the employment data due out at the end of the week. The market is sensitive to the possibility of another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve Board - the U-S central bank. But analyst Joseph Finnegan believes corporate earnings will be the major catalyst for market activity for the rest of this month, as companies make their quarterly reports:

    ///FINNEGAN ACT///

    The employment report on Friday would be the next good indicator whether the "Fed" can step back or not. If hourly earnings and the payrolls report are okay, I think you have a positive there. But going away from Friday, going into next week, earnings is really what matters. And the Computer Associates warning today really shows you exactly how much it does matter.

    ///END ACT///

    Oil sector stocks were also lower Wednesday, after Saudi Arabia said it would boost production in an effort to curb rising oil prices. Any increase in the oil supply, however, is not expected to ease pressure on the cost of gasoline in the United States during the peak of the summer vacation season. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 05-Jul-2000 16:56 PM EDT (05-Jul-2000 2056 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Regional papers throughout the United States are returning to the stands after the 4th of July Independence day celebrations, filled with editorials about Mexico's historic election. Other popular topics include: dealing with Africa's AIDS crisis; what lies ahead for Syria; a controversial World Bank loan affecting Tibet; the civil war in Chechnya; and Zimbabwe after parliamentary elections there. There are also comments about wolves, the Planet Mars; and frogs. Now, here is _________ with a closer look and an excerpt or two in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The thrilling election in Mexico Sunday, in which the opposition PAN party's candidate Vicente Fox defeated the country's long ruling PRI, continues to draw waves of comment. In Tennessee, The Chattanooga Free Press salutes the victory and chides its readers and other Americans for inattention.

    VOICE: We Americans tend to pay far too little attention to the politics and economics of our biggest and closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Unless there is "bad news," we generally aren't much interested. But we all should note with great interest the fact that Mexico has just had a peaceful democratic revolution at the ballot box.

    TEXT: In Nebraska, The [Omaha] World Herald applauded the peaceful and fair balloting.

    VOICE: No riots in the streets, no midnight guerrilla attacks. . . Happily, no such extreme measures were needed. But in terms that matter, on Sunday Mexico had its latest revolution. ... [it provided] the voters' clear statement of what they did not want: another PRI president. ... The change comes after 71 consecutive years in power for the PRI, longer than any other party has ever held power in a nominal democracy.

    TEXT: Tuesday afternoon's Honolulu [Hawaii] Star- Bulletin suggests: "Vicente Fox's victory is an encouraging sing for a vibrant democracy in Mexico as it enters the new century," while in Florida, The Orlando Sentinel cheers: "[Mr.] Fox didn't simply win the presidency. He helped Mexico move in an entirely new direction, toward a stronger democracy. And in Ohio, The [Akron] Beacon Journal adds:

    VOICE: [Mr.] Fox has helped Mexico to leap forward as a democracy. The test of a democratic government is the ability to transfer power peacefully. At last, Mexico has done so. ... If the country wants to relish the moment, it shouldn't salute the newly elected president alone. The victory, ironically, belongs to an even larger degree, to Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, the accident president who has engineered the sweeping changes that permitted the historic election.

    ///OPT ///

    TEXT: In Washington State, The Seattle Times editorial headline reads: "Mexico starts fresh with great expectations," but warns the victor:

    VOICE: The down side of Vicente Fox's history-making victory... is having to show up and do the job. Enormous social and economic problems are topped only by the outsized expectations for change.

    TEXT: The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville adds: VOICED: Mexican voters accomplished two things, both positive ... when they elected Vicente Fox as president. They ensured continuation of the free market reforms instituted by the past three chief executives. ... Perhaps more importantly, all doubts were removed about Mexico being a democracy.

    TEXT: And in New Jersey, The [Bergen County] Record cheers the election victory, but reminds that this is only the beginning. Now the hard part begins.

    VOICE: It is far too soon to tell whether Mexico's new president ... will be able to deliver on all his promises. But the fact that he was elected at all is a sign of dramatic, historic change. ... Mr. Fox, a conservative businessman and rancher who once headed Coca-Cola in Mexico [Editors: and all of Central America as well] apparently tapped an ardent desire for change in the Mexican people and a wish to move into the new century as a real democracy. ... hundreds of international observers ... say this election was the fairest and most open in Mexico's history ...

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to other issues of the day, the scourge of AIDS in Africa occupies a high place. In today's Washington Post, the lead headline at the top of the front page reads: World Shunned Signs of the Coming Plague." In Minnesota, the [Minneapolis] Star Tribune suggests that fighting AIDS in Africa must be a world priority.

    VOICE: /// OPT /// Ours is a world that can detect water on Mars, create the Internet and decipher human biology. And yet millions are dying of a preventable disease - - AIDS. Two-thirds of its sufferers are concentrated in Africa. /// END OPT /// AIDS in Africa is not a new story; for several years now experts have been sounding the alarm in various ways. But the crisis will stay in the news as a global killer unless the world mobilizes to stop it. ... Every government and every organization - - private, nonprofit and religious - - must join the campaign to remove stigma and denial about the disease, educate the population, promote safe sex and facilitate the use of anti-AIDS drugs. Across the board, African leaders must convey strong, consistent messages about the disease and make it a top priority.

    TEXT: It has now been weeks since the death of long- time Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad, and in The Oklahoman, an editorial column by Don Betz, a former United Nations official, talks about the transfer of power.

    VOICE: The rush making [President] Assad's son [Bashar] his successor tells us less about the young Dr. Bashar than about the political forces working to control Syria's future. The ruling Baath Party, the military and various cliques are all actively working to set their own agenda, while outsiders are hoping for a Syria more to their own liking, a group which includes most of its neighbors, the European Union, Russia and the United States. /// OPT ///... [Doctor] Bashar's European education and ... interest in technology make him a change agent for a nation not yet wired into globalization. And with the gadgets will come access to information and the inevitable exposure to the allure of free societies. Syrians will hardly be able to resist.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Still in the Middle East, today's New York Times, calls the guilty verdict for ten of 13 Iranian Jews on trial for espionage, a "Wrongful Verdict" and "a brazen violation of international human rights standards and due process of law." As regards the on-going civil war in the Russian region of Chechnya, The [Charleston, South Carolina] Post and Courier notes the recent rebel attacks that killed many Russian troops. It suggests:

    VOICE: ...Sunday night's bombings should have brought into clearer focus the necessity for negotiations to end the conflict. The anti-guerrilla measures ... the Russian military appears to contemplate risk increasing Chechen resentment.

    TEXT: In Asian affairs, both the Washington Post and New York Times are assailing a pending World Bank- financed repatriation of about 58-thousand Chinese farmers into a section of Tibet. The Times calls it "misguided, while The Post notes internal controversy.

    VOICE: ... the project has become controversial for another reason ... Pro-Tibet protests prompted the bank to commission an independent review ... which has found that the bank's staff bent in-house rules on the way to approving it. What's more, the bank's board has held up publication of the review, apparently also in deference to China.

    TEXT: Back to African affairs, now with a [Cleveland, Ohio] Plain Dealer comment on the movement toward democracy in Zimbabwe after last month's parliamentary elections, giving the opposition a much larger role.

    VOICE: [President Robert] Mugabe has a chance to become the Great Conciliator and the Great Statesman by scuttling the government's plan to take farms from whites, a policy strongly opposed by the [opposition] Movement for Democratic Change. He should seize it.

    /// opt ///

    TEXT: Here in the United States, there is a dispute over whether the North American gray wolf has grown in sufficient numbers to be taken off the endangered list by the U-S government, a move opposed by western farmers and ranchers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests:

    VOICE: The rebound of the gray wolf proves ... it is possible to reverse decades of relentless persecution by hunters, ranchers and trappers. The bigger challenge now may be ...defending their turf from the relentless onslaught of houses, roads and strip malls. Perhaps, if we care enough, the wolf and the American wilderness will endure.

    /// end opt ///

    TEXT: Elsewhere, the Chicago Tribune is excited about the prospect of water on the planet Mars, something suggested by new data from the U-S space agency, NASA.

    VOICE: A prospective Martian aquifer would enhance the possibility of manned missions to the planet. Water breaks down into oxygen, which is needed for breathing, and hydrogen, a good rocket fuel - - both needed in abundance for a two-year round trip to the planet, or for a colony one day.

    TEXT: And lastly, the worldwide disappearance of certain types of frogs, toads and other amphibians during the past few years, draws this anxious comment from the Tulsa [Oklahoma] World.

    VOICE: Like other small and often rather ugly creatures, at least by human standards, amphibians fulfill the "canary in the coal mine" function, serving to warn creatures higher up the food chain of possible danger in the environment. But those higher up ... have to be paying ... attention for it to do them any good. ...

    TEXT: On that ominous note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KBK 05-Jul-2000 10:59 AM EDT (05-Jul-2000 1459 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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