6 October 1997


6 October 1997

Press Release


19971006 Statements Also Made by Foreign Affairs Ministers of San Marino, Barbados, Gambia, Mongolia; Representatives of Djibouti, Azerbaijan

The President of Cyprus, Glafcos Clerides, told the General Assembly this morning that, while he was still committed to a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, he would not relinquish his country's inalienable right to defend itself and decide about its armaments. Addressing the Assembly as it continued its general debate, he said he would not allow the Turkish Air Force "to bomb our towns and villages at will, as it has done in the past, without the ability to defend ourselves".

President Clerides said Turkey had threatened to annex the area it occupied if the European Union started accession negotiations with Cyprus and to use force to prevent the purchase and installation of S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Despite intense diplomatic activity culminating in the June face- to-face intercommunal talks, the Turkish Cypriots had been completely negative. The international community must become more actively involved if the talks were to produce results.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, Omar Yusupha Njie, said efforts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to relieve Africa's foreign debt crisis had fallen short of expectations. The expansion of poverty in Africa had also contributed to the failure to achieve sustainable development.

Despite world economic growth, developing countries found it difficult to mobilize domestic and external resources for sustained economic growth, he said. Although promotion and expansion of South-South cooperation was receiving greater support among developing countries, it would only succeed if both the South and North remained committed to its full realization.

Statements were also made this morning by: the Foreign Ministers of San Marino and Mongolia; the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tourism and International Transport of Barbados; and the representatives of Azerbaijan and Djibouti.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its general debate.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate. The scheduled speakers were the President of Cyprus, the Secretaries of State of San Marino and the Gambia, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Barbados, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Mongolia, and the representatives of Azerbaijan and Djibouti.


GLAFCOS CLERIDES, President of Cyprus, said that the Secretary-General's reform proposals were introduced at a time when the high-level working groups, mandated by the Assembly to examine specific issues, had yet to achieve substantial progress. Reform of the Security Council was a top priority, which directly affected the Council's capacity to maintain international peace and security. While progress already achieved in the Council's working methods was welcome, further steps towards transparency and democratization were expected, as well as an overall agreement which commanded the general support of the Organization's membership.

The future United Nations must give most urgent priority to the "Agenda for Development", he said. Any modern concept of international peace must recognize that peace, security and development were indivisible. He commended and stressed the important role of the Organization in promoting human rights, as well as the progressive development and codification of international law. In that regard, he fully supported the establishment of the international criminal court. The Organization's contribution in the areas of development and education, hunger and illiteracy, and its role in restoring and upholding human dignity must also be cherished.

He said that the principles and ideals of the United Nations formed the cornerstone of his foreign policy. Concerning the Cyprus question, 1997 had been a year of intense diplomatic activity culminating in face-to-face intercommunal talks under United Nations' auspices. The resumption of talks was the result of the untiring efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General and the international community. The Security Council was closely pursuing developments on the question of Cyprus.

His side had worked hard in the talks to break the impasse and reverse the status quo created and maintained by Turkey by the use of force since 1974, which had been declared unacceptable by the Security Council, he said. In contrast, the response of the other side was completely negative, as the Council President indicated in a statement following a briefing on the talks last August by the Secretary-General's Special Adviser, Diego Cordovez. The European Union reached the same verdict and rejected any link between the talks and the start of its accession negotiations with Cyprus.

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More active involvement by the international community, and in particular by those who were "in the wings" of the talks, was needed if the talks were to produce results, he said. The Turkish side continued to threaten to annex to Turkey the territory occupied by Turkish forces if the European Union commenced accession negotiations with Cyprus. Furthermore, it threatened to use force against Cyprus to prevent the implementation of the agreement to buy and install the S-300 defensive ground-to-air missile system.

While he reiterated his commitment towards a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, he said he could not and would not relinquish his country's inalienable right to defend itself and decide about its armaments. As long as the Turkish threat persisted, his Government had not only the right, but also the duty to provide for the security of its people. "We will not tie our hands behind our backs and allow the Turkish Air Force to bomb our towns and villages at will, as it has done in the past, without the ability to defend ourselves", he said.

"Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have to live in Cyprus for centuries to come", he said. They must live in a bicommunal, bi-zonal federal republic. In addition, membership in the European Union was essential for the promotion of prosperity and security. The question of Cyprus had been on the United Nations agenda for too long. A momentum had been created for the solution of the problem and that opportunity must not be missed. It was clear now where the attentions of the Council and the international community should be focused. The Council should use all the means in its power to persuade the Turkish side to abandon its intransigent position. On a final note, the solution to the missing persons in Cyprus, which was a purely humanitarian concern, was long overdue, he said.

GABRIELE GATTI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, said weapons of war had become more sophisticated, destructive and were more easily produced and spread. Millions of anti-personnel landmines had been placed around the world and, for each mine cleared, there were an estimated 50 new ones laid. All States must adhere to the convention on a comprehensive international ban on anti-personnel landmines. On terrorism, San Marino was attentively following the ad hoc working group on the drafting of a convention on the prevention and suppression of international terrorist bombing. The proliferation of transnational violence and crime demanded an adequate response by the international community. His Government was active in the prevention of drug trafficking and had launched the "Youth Project", a series of initiatives organized by, and dedicated to young people, to stimulate their creativity.

Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, concrete initiatives had fallen short of expectations and that had been confirmed by the recent special session of the General Assembly on the review of Agenda 21. The Secretary-General's proposal to revitalize the Trusteeship Council by entrusting it with a mandate of "collective

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environmental safeguard" was praiseworthy, he said. The environment was a priority concern for San Marino, and a student project to monitor the territory and enhance citizen's awareness was being undertaken.

His Government had signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and believed that the adoption of decisions aimed at defending children against aggression, including sexual abuse, was of paramount importance, he said. His country also supported the fight against capital punishment and was the first European country to abolish it, in the mid-nineteenth century. Other Member States should adopt concrete measures to eliminate the death penalty. His country boasted a tradition of hospitality towards refugee seekers and was concerned about the situation in refugee camps and the impact on local populations.

The Secretary-General's package of reforms was a good basis for a realistic and effective response to achieve the United Nations goals of peace, social and economic progress and human rights, he said. Member States should put more focus on those goals by first solving the Organization's financial crisis. A more equitable scale of assessments was necessary, as was cost- cutting, elimination or reduction of bodies and services where appropriate, and avoidance of overlap with other organizations at a regional level.

In reforming the Security Council, it was essential that restructuring was not confined to larger States, he said. The future arrangement of the United Nations should reflect a community of 185 countries, with each being independent and sovereign according to the principles of universality and equality. In light of those reasons, San Marino supported increasing the number of non-permanent seats on the Council. In addition, his country was convinced that the United Nations was called to fulfil both a monitoring and protecting mandate. On the one hand, it should act in favour of individuals whose rights and freedoms were limited or denied by their own States. On the other hand, it should act in favour of those countries whose development could be hampered or influenced.

HASSAN A. HASSANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said it had been six years since Armenia had began its aggression against his country. In its intention to seize part of the territory of Azerbaijan, Armenia had initiated and sponsored a separatist movement in the Nagorny-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, completely ignoring the principle of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.

Later, Armenia had resorted to armed aggression against Azerbaijan, occupying a considerable part of Azerbaijan and leaving 1 million people without shelter. The so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh republic" was nothing but a tactical trick in the strategy of Armenian politicians to attach the Nagorny-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to Armenia. Various Security Council resolutions reconfirmed the fact that the Nagorny-Karabakh region was a part of Azerbaijan.

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He said the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Lisbon Summit of 1996 put forward three principles for the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan; conferring a legal status of Nagorny-Karabakh that guarantees the highest degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan; and guaranteed security for Nagorny-Karabakh and its population, including mutual obligations to ensure compliance by all the parties with the provisions of the settlement. Armenia had rejected those principles. It had received, during the period of 1993-1996, Russian tanks, armoured vehicles and SCUD type missiles worth $1 billion, clearly demonstrating that it had not yet given up its aggressive plans.

The President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, had stated that Azerbaijan would continue to adhere to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, he said. Azerbaijan was ready to provide to the Armenian population of the Nagorny- Karabakh region the broadest autonomy, but it would never submit to the seizure of part of its territory or allow the creation of a second Armenian state at the expense of its own land. His Government supported recent proposals submitted in September by the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Conference -- United States, Russian Federation and France. Elaboration of a draft agreement to end the armed conflict on the basis of those proposals would create a solid potential for a breakthrough in the Armenia-Azerbaijan armed conflict.

He said his Government supported the Secretary-General's reform proposals and would help elevate United Nations preparedness to meet the challenges of the next century. The establishment of the position of Deputy Secretary-General, the setting up of a Senior Management Group, the creation of a Strategic Planning Unit, strengthening of the executive committees of the sectoral groups and other suggestions would be interesting and help ensure the harmonious management and functioning of the Organization. He supported the Secretary-General's idea on strengthening the potential of the United Nations in the field of post-conflict peace-building, with the designation of the Department of Political Affairs as a focal point for that purpose.

He said an increase in the number of permanent members of the Security Council must be limited to the number of countries capable of and willing to assume the global responsibility, including the financial aspect, for the maintenance of international peace and security, for sustainable development and stability. Germany and Japan met those requirements. An increase in non- permanent members should meet the principle of equitable geographic allocation of seats for all regional groups. He supported an increase in the number of non-permanent members from the East European States, given their doubled membership in the past five years. One non-permanent seat for the group would not reflect the real state of affairs and would not reflect their role in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Azerbaijan fully supported the Secretary-General's idea that one of the main directions for reform must be to strengthen United Nations activity in

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coordinating international cooperation for development, he said. Many large development projects had been implemented in Azerbaijan with the help of the United Nations specialized agencies, including the establishment of a free economic zone in Azerbaijan's third largest city and the rehabilitation programme in the territories liberated from the Armenian occupation. Structural reform of the socio-economic departments of the Secretariat and conferring of new functions on the Economic and Social Council were logical elements of the reform programme. Reform of the Organization's personnel policy should be inseparable from overall reform. His Government was concerned, however, that Azerbaijan was not represented in the Secretariat.

Recently, several regions of Azerbaijan suffered from floods, he said. His Government endorsed the Secretary-General's idea that humanitarian action went beyond simply providing assistance and involved early warning, prevention, explanatory work and rehabilitation, as well as assistance for long-term development. He hoped that structural changes, namely, creation of an Office of the Emergency Relief Coordinator to replace the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, would not result in a decrease of humanitarian assistance for recipient countries. It was necessary to maintain the independence of United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for fund-raising donors. He hoped the establishment of the United Nations Development Group would not weaken, but would rather consolidate UNICEF. On the issue of resident-coordinators, his Government believed it would be expedient to select their representatives from all interested organizations.

BILLIE A. MILLER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Barbados, said if the "Agenda for Development" was to be implemented, it must claim wide ownership, not only among the organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, but among the operational ministries of governments as well, particularly ministries of finance. Negotiations on reform of the Security Council should facilitate, not limit, opportunities for membership of developing countries, and reflect the altered structure of the Organization. She attached particular importance to the principle of openness and transparency in the work of the Council and welcomed the regular briefings and monthly assessments by Council Presidents. Difficult negotiations remained, however, on key issues, including the size of the Council, the nature of its enlargement and the use of the veto.

The proposals for improving the role and functioning of the General Assembly, and the accountability and efficiency of the Secretariat, were a firm basis on which the effectiveness of those organs could be built, she said. Payment of assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions was a treaty obligation of Member States. Unilateral conditions constituted a dangerous precedent which could hobble the United Nations and the reform process for many years to come. The Secretary-General's reforms were far-reaching proposals designed to streamline the organizational and management structure of the United Nations, and would improve its overall effectiveness.

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Her country's own national development programmes gave the highest priority to the economic and social sectors, but emerging problems largely associated with poverty, particularly among the youth, were also of critical concern, she said. Her Government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had launched a plan of action for poverty alleviation, including the feasibility of a social investment funding scheme. Through related policies, her Government was also implementing measures to promote gender parity and the full integration of women and youth in the development process. Recognizing the influence of civil society in shaping national policy, her Government had also taken a number of actions to foster and strengthen the participatory process, including the establishment of national commissions on social justice and reform of the constitution.

Turning to the environment, she said the failure of donors to honour commitments on finance and technology was clearly the most crucial factor limiting further implementation of Agenda 21. She also hoped that the two-day special session, in 1999, to review the Barbados Plan of Action would reinforce the long-term viability of the programme and underscore the vital role small island developing States could play as laboratories for the study of environmental change.

The recent decisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) panel on the banana question had threatened the very lifeline of the banana-exporting countries of the Caribbean region, she said. It was well known that diversification was the long-term answer, but such economic transformations could not be achieved overnight or without consistent support from the international community. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had welcome Haiti as its fourteenth member in June, and it now wanted to express its gratitude to the Security Council and the Friends of Haiti for extending the mandate of the Transition Mission in Haiti until 30 November. She said Barbados shared the anxieties of small developing States, which were highly vulnerable to marginalization in the fiercely competitive global environment given their sparse natural and human resources and their limited administrative and technical capacity. The United Nations should play a greater advocacy role on behalf of vulnerable States in the dialogue on globalization.

ROBLE OLHAYE (Djibouti) said that the Secretary-General's reform proposals went a long way towards realizing a dream that had often evaded the international community in the past. His report on the work of the Organization was an excellent overview of the principal issues that confronted mankind. On the one hand, there were ripple effects from the demise of the cold war, the advent of a single global market and the trend towards democratization and respect for human rights. On the other hand, there were ominous tendencies towards fragmentation and the consequent spread of civil strife and conflict. Today, therefore, dealing with post-conflict situations was as critical as preventing them. There was now a universal recognition that much of that conflict was the result of widespread poverty and severe underdevelopment.

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To remain relevant, the United Nations must carry out fundamental structural adjustments that could no longer be addressed through ad hoc, piecemeal reforms, he said. "A coordinating, top-down, comprehensive reform of the entire edifice is necessary", he said. The savings derived from such reform should be directed to development. For the sake of the larger purpose at stake, miniscule nit-picking should be avoided in favour of a pragmatic and positive approach towards the total package. But an effective United Nations could not operate on ever-dwindling resources, which perpetually put it on the brink of bankruptcy. Ultimately, the financial solvency of the Organization was the responsibility of its Members.

The issue of Security Council reform must not be linked to the Secretary-General's reform proposal, which had to run its own course, he said. Yet, the time had come to admit to the Council new permanent members from all regions of the world, wielding the same powers as the existing ones. Djibouti fully endorsed the position of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Non-Aligned Movement of Countries regarding the expansion, composition and working methods of the Council.

He said that the situation in Somalia had regrettably exited the international radar screen of concern, although, with one or two notable exceptions, the factions had agreed to a conference in November aimed at establishing an interim authority to prepare the groundwork for a national government. Somalia could benefit from the example of Liberia, a country written off until a few months ago. Now, through concerted dialogue and determination, and constant prodding by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations, a legitimate government was in place. As neighbours, and as the recipient of a staggering flow of Somali refugees, Djibouti had a special interest in Somalia's destiny. However, that mammoth humanitarian undertaking was beyond his country's capacity to sustain, and required the international community's continued support.

While the Horn of Africa region was passing through a period of relative stability and rejuvenation, reconstruction from previous conflicts required regional cooperation, he said. The level of interdependence made it impossible to survive in isolation. While there were encouraging signs in the areas of democratization, good governance, and regional economic cooperation, many developing countries with small markets, poor infrastructure, unskilled labour and high external debt faced the risk of further marginalization, requiring greater international support. The least developed countries, particularly those in Africa, walked fine line between sustainable progress and decline. The internal conflicts raging in a number of those countries further undermined an already fragile regional stability. Bold initiatives, such as the convening in September of a special ministerial session of the United Nations Security Council on Africa,were helpful.

The resumption of the peace process in the region of the Middle East was urgent, he said. Contrary to what Israel would have everyone believe, that

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process had not faltered because of the suicide bombings alone, but because of Israel's refusal to implement the terms of the Interim Agreement of Self- Governing Arrangements. While those terrorist acts must be condemned, the punishment meted out on Palestinian territories further aggravated an explosive situation, and produced devastating economic effects. Israel should demonstrate its willingness to move towards a secure peace in the region, towards credible negotiations and a lasting settlement based on resolutions to exchange land for peace. In other matters, he implored Iran and the United Arab Emirates to commence negotiations to resolve their dispute. He also welcomed the landmark achievement by the Oslo Conference to conclude negotiations for a worldwide ban on anti-personnel landmines. That convention was critical in preventing the global village from becoming an armed camp, he said.

SHUKHERIIN ALTANGEREL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, said the disintegration of the bipolar world and the end of the cold war created favourable conditions for achieving the goals and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. He supported efforts to reform the United Nations, including reduction of the United Nations Secretariat staff, allocation of the resulting savings for accelerating development, establishment of the post of the Deputy Secretary-General, and creation of the United Nations Development Group to improve coordination and management.

He said he supported the idea of expanding both permanent and non- permanent membership of the Security Council. The Council's activities should be democratized and more transparent. He also supported the Secretary- General's efforts to give priority to socio-economic questions, United Nations developmental activities, and international cooperation for development. In that respect, the "Agenda for Development" was an important document for achieving the goal of sustained economic growth while enhancing social development and protecting the environment. Land-locked developing countries faced tremendous obstacles and hardships, he said. Those nations risked marginalization in the globalization process. It was vital to increase the international community's support and cooperation in that regard. Those countries were taking specific steps to develop transport cooperation with their neighbours. His Government believed the first North-East Asia Subregional Consultative Meeting on Transit Transportation, held in Ulaanbaatar this year, had laid the groundwork for regional cooperation.

Turning to disarmament, he said Mongolia had ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty last July and strongly urged its entry into force as soon as possible. His Government was also pleased with the entry into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of Use, Production, Destruction and Stockpiling of Chemical Weapons. His Government had presented a working paper on the concept of single-State nuclear-weapon-free zones to the last session of the Disarmament Commission. His country supported the proposal to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world, especially Central Asia.

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At Mongolia's initiative, the current Assembly session would consider drafting guidelines for international negotiations. He believed that would meet the purposes and principles of the United Nations Decade of International Law and help define international criteria for conducting international negotiations on the basis of justice and sovereign equality of States, irrespective of their actual power. His Government continued to support the convening in 1998 of a diplomatic conference on the establishment of the international criminal court. He added that the jurisdiction of the court should cover crimes of aggression and grave environmental crimes. His Government was consistently pursuing the policy of democratization, embracing the market economy and opening up to the world, he said. In the past year, it had undertaken a series of measures to accelerate political and economic reforms, stabilize the country's economy and ensure economic growth. Accession to and full membership in the WTO early in 1997 greatly contributed to the forward-looking development of Mongolia. By joining the process of world and regional economic integration, Mongolia was strengthening peace, security and cooperation in Asia and the Pacific.

OMAR YUSUPHA NJIE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, said his country had successfully completed a two-year transition programme to democratic civilian rule with a new Constitution in January and free and fair Presidential and National Assembly elections in September 1996 and early January 1997. The Gambian National Assembly had been readmitted into the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The Government had embarked on an ambitious socio-economic development programme during the two-year transition period, which focused on building schools, health facilities, roads and other infrastructure, and boosting agricultural development to ensure food self- sufficiency by the year 1999. The programme aimed to lay the basis for genuine and sustainable democracy. The Government, in collaboration with the private sector, had embarked on a national development programme (VISION 2020) to transform the country, economically and socially, over the next 25 years into a developed, economically viable State, he said. The Gambia was also enhancing bilateral and multilateral cooperation with all friendly countries and institutions to ensure its development goals, as well as develop and enhance intra-African cooperation and solidarity in all vital sectors for sustained economic growth. Only through cooperation founded on self-reliance and hard work could African countries adequately face up to the daunting development challenges. In the Gambia, the rate of growth had remained below the rate of population increase.

Africa's foreign debt crisis had remained a major impediment to growth, he said. The international community's effort, as well as those of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, had fallen short of the desired result. The growth and expansion of poverty in Africa had also contributed to the failure to achieve sustainable development. The Gambia had embarked on a bold national plan of action for the eradication of poverty, assisted by the United Nations, the World Bank and other bilateral partners.

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Reviewing the situation in various African countries, he expressed grave concern over the situation evolving in Sierra Leone and said he hoped the restoration of constitutional democracy in Liberia following national elections on 19 July would lead to a permanent peaceful solution to that country's crisis. It was heartening that the conflict situation in the Great Lakes region was somewhat under control. However, despite mediation efforts, the fighting in the Congo continued unabated.

He said his Government strongly supported the aspirations of the Republic of China on Taiwan to exercise their rights to share and participate in the activities of intergovernmental organizations. The Taiwan question was a test of the international community's interpretation of democracy. The Organization would do itself a great service by admitting Taiwan. The Gambia also supported the United Nations' measures to assist Cuba in its efforts to achieve greater socio-economic progress.

Developing countries, despite world economic growth, continued to experience difficulty in mobilizing domestic and external resources for sustained economic growth, he said. Although promotion and expansion of South-South cooperation was receiving greater support among developing countries, it would only succeed if both the South and North remained committed to its full realization. Intra-African economic cooperation and integration had also been growing and regional activities were now directed to the socio-economic transformation of the economies of African States.

Within the context of subregional cooperation, the Gambia had hosted the Twelfth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Permanent Interstate Committee for the Control of Drought in the Sahel in September, he said. Those meetings testified to the importance attached to sustained collaborative efforts to combat drought and desertification. The Gambia was also actively participating in the ongoing United Nations Conference of State Parties on Desertification. The resources and measures provided to combat drought and desertification should be redoubled. His country also intended to achieve "sustainable development and food security through research into the underlying phenomena of drought, desertification and ecology instability". It would do that by designing and implementing programmes of natural resource management and improvement of the agro-food sectors in the Sahel, as well as through the sustainability of farming systems.

On the subject of United Nations reform, he said there was an urgent need to democratize the Organization, especially the Security Council. The use of the veto against the wishes of the vast majority of the members of the Organization should be curbed. Also, the composition of the Council should reflect the realities of the times. It was necessary to ensure that United Nations resolutions and decisions by the International Court of Justice were respected, obeyed and implemented by all countries.

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For information media. Not an official record.