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                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                        DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                            I N D E X

                     Wednesday, June 21, 1995

                                       Briefer:  Nicholas Burns

Procedures for Press Filing Breaks .......................1

UNPROFOR/Rapid Reaction Force/Funding ....................1-2,6-7
Combination of Bosnian/Croatian Military Operations ......2-3
Operation Deny Flight .....................................2-4
Access of UN Forces Impeded by Bosnian Government ........4
Russian Ambassador Churkin's Activities in Region ........4-5
Role of Contact Group ....................................5-6
Secretary Christopher's Mtg. with Dr. Rugova .............7

Victims of Fighting Between Army Troops and Guerrillas ...7-8

Under Secretary Davis' Mtg. with Deputy FM Mamedov .......8-10
--Sale of Russian Nuclear Technology to Iran .............9
--Talks between Gore and Chernomyrdin ....................9-10
Cease-fire with Chechen Leadership .......................14

U.S.-China Relations/High-Level Consultations ............13
Reported Death of Deng Xiaoping ..........................10

Rice Negotiations with South Korea .......................10-11
Opening of Liaison Office ................................15

Resumption of Nuclear Testing/Russian Testing ............11-13

Visit by economic team ...................................13


DPB #90

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 1995, 1:07 P.M.

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have a short announcement.

I have been requested by officers of the Correspondents Association to remind their colleagues of the basic rules for filing information from briefings in this room. Journalists are reminded that State Department briefings, be they the daily press briefings or special background and on-the-record presentations, are embargoed until their conclusion. This means that journalists may not file on information that is disseminated; transcription services may not transmit texts; and television and radio networks may not broadcast visuals or sound until the senior wire correspondent formally adjourns the proceedings.

The only exceptions are when a filing break is requested and granted, or when the briefing is being broadcast live.

These rules apply to journalists listening over remote feeds, as well as those physically in the room. News people who wish to leave the room before the formal conclusion of a briefing should notify an officer of the Correspondents Association or the senior wire correspondent in advance and with the understanding that she or he will not file until the conclusion of the briefing.

That concludes my short announcement. I'd be glad to go directly to your questions.

Q Now I have it.

MR. BURNS: I've done it, right?

Q No curiosity today.

Q Can you address the question: Does the U.S. Government have a clear idea of the precise mission of the Rapid Reaction Force, now that there have been talks around the Administration with Mr. Rifkind and the Dutch Defense Minister?

MR. BURNS: This is one of the issues that has been discussed intensively between the United States, Britain, France, and the Netherlands -- the major troop-contributing countries, the latter three, to UNPROFOR -- and those countries that will be the backbone of the Rapid Reaction Force. We're seeking a clarification from those countries on that specific question, but I have nothing further for you today, Roy -- certainly nothing more than what we said yesterday.

Q What clarifications exactly are you seeking?

MR. BURNS: We're seeking clarifications as to the specific role that the troop-contributing countries believe that the Rapid Reaction Force would take.

Q Is there some doubt? I mean, it's kind of several weeks into the process. Is there some -- it seems unusual that even now, after the President said he wants to ask Congress for the money, that you don't actually know what the Force is going to do.

MR. BURNS: We support the creation of this Force. We have supported it since the Noordwijk meeting, and we certainly support it very clearly and unequivocally because we believe that it will help in the quest to maintain UNPROFOR in the region and to strengthen it. That's important, and that is the basis for our support.

We do have an interest in sorting out with our allies what the exact mission of the Rapid Reaction Force would be, and as I said we're seeking clarifications. But I really don't have any information that would take me beyond where I was on this yesterday.

Q Where do you stand on the hunt for funds?

MR. BURNS: Where we stand is exactly where we stood yesterday. We're having discussions with the Congress -- various members of Congress -- and they're quite intensive, they're underway. They have been underway since late last week. When those discussions are concluded, we hope very much that it will have resolved the problem of funding. But I don't have anything for you today on that.

Q Nick, there have been reports about combined Bosnian-Croatian military operations on the ground. Do you have any reports on that? And, secondly, there are also reports coming from Croatia that there has been a scaling-down of the "no-fly" flights.

I know you answered that yesterday, but the reports are still coming out. Do you have anything new?

MR. BURNS: On the second question, I would direct you to the Pentagon for specific information, but I was informed by the Pentagon yesterday and still maintain that the "Operation Deny Flight" will continue in its full dimension and that we are not aware of any drawdown of aircraft from that operation.

Q Nick, and on the first --

Q Croatian-Bosnian --

MR. BURNS: Yes, I'm sorry. On the issue of whether or not Croatia and Bosnia are in fact integrating their tactical or strategic military plans, we've seen the same reports. We don't have diplomats in the region -- that is, at the center of the fighting -- so we can't confirm those reports.

Q On the "no-fly", there's a report that a couple of fixed-wing aircraft were spotted near Banja Luka, that NATO volunteered to take some sort of action. The U.N. said no, which is not in and of itself unusual, but I guess goes to the point whether there was a deal in exchange for the release of the hostages.

MR. BURNS: On the issue of whether there was some kind of a deal or understanding pertaining to the release of the hostages and whether that was linked to the issue of air strikes, I believe that Mr. Akashi has said publicly that there was no such deal.

On the issue of the events or activities that you described, there's a dual-key arrangement in place between the United Nations and NATO which governs the use of air power in the region. That dual key is in operation. So if you're wondering whether one can confirm a specific incident to which you refer, I think really the U.N. and NATO at this time are the best people to go to for that -- the people on the ground.

Q One more incident, really. It would just be one more on top of the very long tally.

I guess the other point is: Why bother continuing with the "no- fly" operation?

MR. BURNS: The "no-fly" operation is an important part of the operations of the United Nations -- of UNPROFOR, in the region -- and we believe it has continuing importance and relevance. We have no plans to limit "Operation Deny Flight"; it will continue.

Q Nick, in the past the "no-fly" zone had been automatic and it was only ground strikes that required the dual key. Has there been a change in that policy?

MR. BURNS: I don't believe there's been a change in the policy. I'm not aware of any change, but I would refer you to the people on the ground for a detailed explanation of that.

Q Nick, another topic --

Q No. Still on Bosnia, there's a report that some Canadian troops are being surrounded or otherwise sort of impeded in their movements by the Bosnian Government forces. What do you know about that, and what do you have to say about it?

MR. BURNS: We have seen the same reports. We've been in touch with officials of some of the countries involved. I'm not aware that the Bosnian Government forces have completely unblocked the Canadian forces today in Visoko or in the region of Visoko.

We have called repeatedly on all parties not to hinder the United Nations forces in carrying out their mandate. We continue to believe that UNPROFOR has a vital role to play, as we've been discussing for the last couple of days, in averting a humanitarian tragedy. Therefore, UNPROFOR's unimpeded access to delivering humanitarian goods is very important and to fulfilling the other missions that it has.

Q What kind of effort, though, has the United States made to use its considerable influence with the Bosnian Government?

MR. BURNS: This is first and foremost the responsibility of those on the ground to try to work out the problem, but certainly we are working towards a resolution of the problem. We don't think this has been a positive action. We call upon all parties, and that includes the Bosnian Government, not to hinder the activities of U.N. forces. We've made that very clear to the Bosnian Government.

Q Have you gotten the report back from Vitaly Churkin on his goings-on in the Balkans?

MR. BURNS: I understand that Ambassador Churkin is concluding his travels in the Balkans, that he's due back in Moscow this evening. We fully anticipate that Ambassador Pickering, the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow, will receive a full briefing from the Russian Government tomorrow morning on the activities of Ambassador Churkin and any conclusions he has drawn from his discussions in the area.

Q But so far you haven't gotten a readout from him on his talks as they progressed.

MR. BURNS: That's right. So far we have not received a readout or a briefing from the Russian Government on his talks.

Q Just to clarify, was he going on behalf of the Contact Group or with Contact Group plans in mind, or on behalf of the Russian Government?

MR. BURNS: I think it's been described by the Russian Government as a Russian mission. I think, as we talked about before, Russia is a member of the Contact Group. It's sometimes hard to distinguish between what is a mission on behalf of the Contact Group and what is a mission on behalf of a particular country, because at this point we do have agreement in the Contact Group around the Contact Group map and plan as the starting point for negotiations.

There has also been agreement in the Contact Group on the offer that the United States has taken a lead on in our own diplomatic missions in the area -- the offer for limited sanctions relief in return for Serbian recognition of Bosnia.

So it's hard to give a blanket answer to that question, Roy, but we're looking forward to our discussions tomorrow and we hope that he had a productive round of discussions.

Q There was some talk that the French had suggested to Yeltsin some mission of this sort and that's how it came about. So in other words, it does have some sanction from within the Contact Group. Is that accurate?

MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you on that particular report.

Q Because if that's not the case, then it just looks like the Russians are breaking ranks. The solidarity of the Contact Group, which has been spoken about often enough, you would think requires the countries in diplomatic talks to coordinate before the actions happen, not just to get a briefing after the event.

MR. BURNS: I think as we discussed yesterday, it's important to remember that at Noordwijk, which was the last meeting of the Contract Group ministerial -- at a ministerial level -- there was agreement on the major issues that are at play today in Bosnia on the diplomatic strategy pertaining to Belgrade as well as to Pale. We have no reason to believe that the Russians have deviated from the set of agreements that were worked out at Noordwijk; every reason to believe that they are acting fully in concert with those understandings.

Q Last night Mr. Rifkind had a briefing for the press. In the course of his briefing, he said that if Congress or if the U.S. Government as a whole fails to provide aid to the Rapid Reaction Force, it will have very damaging consequences for the credibility of the U.S. Administration. Do you agree?

MR. BURNS: I would say that the President and Secretary have made very clear our full support for the Rapid Reaction Force, and our full support for the activities of our allies who are the major troop contributors to UNPROFOR.

We are the major financier of UNPROFOR. We're the major contributor of money to support UNPROFOR. We have supported the largest airlift in history of humanitarian goods over the last couple of years. We have been involved. We have a voice, and we are supporting those that have troops on the ground.

Q Would it be very damaging for U.S. credibility if we don't provide money for this Rapid Reaction Force?

MR. BURNS: I don't want to deal in a hypothetical question, especially the way it's phrased, frankly. I think it's important to remember that we are on record clearly and unequivocally in public as supporting this force. We are trying to work out the funding issue with Congress, and we hope to work it out very shortly.

Q Again, you're repeating that you favor the force but you don't know what it's going to do. Mr. Rifkind said last night that one thing it will not do is punch through resistance to deliver aid. In other words, if there's a road block, they won't try to break through it. Nor, in fact, will they even use force to get into Sarajevo if the Serbs decide to stop them. So it's not even clear whether they're ever going to take up their posts in Sarajevo.

How can you push for money for a force where we don't even know if they're going to arrive?

MR. BURNS: The troops are arriving. The troops began to arrive two and a half weeks ago. All of the troops are not yet there, but the Rapid Reaction Force is actually taking form physically on the ground. We have pledged to support it with communications and logistics, intelligence, and lift capabilities.

The rationale for declaring publicly our support for the Rapid Reaction Force is the following: We believe it's in our strategic interest to keep UNPROFOR in the region and to strengthen it. We believe that the presence of the force in bolstering the current U.N. mission will, in fact, strengthen that U.N. mission.

You have asked a couple of questions that are good questions pertaining to the specific mandate that the force would have in responding to a series of possible contingencies within Bosnia. We don't have an answer yet. At least, we're not aware that there's any kind of agreement on the part of the troop-contributing countries to answer your specific question, and that's why we're seeking clarification on that end of the deal.

But we certainly think the proposition that bolstering the U.N. force is good and reasonable and makes sense from our point of view, and strengthening it does as well.

Q What's on Secretary Christopher's agenda with Mr. Rugova this afternoon? Is it Bosnia, or is it just the situation of the Albanians in Kosovo?

MR. BURNS: I think the discussion today will focus on the situation, not so much in Bosnia but in that particular region. We expect it to be a good, productive meeting.

Q Nick, can I ask about the missionaries?


Q Thank you. What can you tell us about the two slain missionaries? Who killed them? Will there be a possibility of retrieving their bodies if so desired? And when they were killed -- anything you can give to us?

MR. BURNS: This situation is very disturbing. I think we're going to be receiving some additional information from our Embassy in Bogota. We have seen press reports that the bodies of two American kidnapped victims were found following a fire fight between Colombian army troops and guerrillas on June 19.

The Colombian military has taken custody of the bodies and the United States Embassy in Bogota is coordinating efforts to verify the identity of the remains. At this time we cannot confirm the identity of those who were killed. We're working very hard on this. We want to determine the identity of the people who were murdered.

As you know, we believe that there are up to seven Americans being held in Colombia. Six of those being held are missionaries, five of whom are with the New Tribes Mission. The press reports have identified the deceased in this particular incident as members of the New Tribes Mission, but we've not been able to confirm their identity.

To the extent that we must -- that is, we must be able to positively and absolutely confirm the identity of the deceased in a case like this, we want to be able to then notify the families of the deceased before we're able to say in public who we think the people were.

Q You are assuming that they are dead?

MR. BURNS: We know that two people were killed. The bodies are in the custody right now of the Colombian military. There's no question about that. The question is, "Who are these individuals, and were they Americans" and that's what we're looking into now.

Q What is the status of the others being held? Do you have any report on their condition?

MR. BURNS: I don't. Unfortunately, I do not.

Q Do you know what group is responsible?

MR. BURNS: No, I don't, George. I don't have any information on that.

Q Do you have anything on Lynn Davis' forthcoming talks with Mamedov?

MR. BURNS: Under Secretary Davis has regular talks with the Russian Government; sometimes has talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov. She, in fact, has left today on a trip to have such talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov. These are talks to look at the landscape of our security issues that are at the forefront of our agenda with the Russian Government.

Q This is a follow-up from Moscow specifically?

MR. BURNS: Yes, yes. She's had a number of rounds of discussions with Mr. Mamedov in the past six to 12 months.

Q Can you be more specific? She's going to talk about Iran, COCOM?

MR. BURNS: She'll talk about the full range of issues. Certainly, the Iran issue will come up. It comes up whenever we have high-level discussions with the Russian Government.

You know very well of our concerns over the possible sale of Russian nuclear technology -- nuclear energy technology -- to Iran. We take every opportunity to make those concerns known.

After the Secretary's series of meetings with Minister Kozyrev, we've also established a group, as you remember, to study this issue, and a group that can be the point where information is passed from our government to the Russians giving our perspective on this, our analysis of Iran's intentions. That will certainly be one of the issues.

Under Secretary Davis has broader responsibilities -- for arms issues, in general, for some proliferation issues, and so it's a full agenda.

Q How about the HEU agreement? Is that also part of her agenda?

MR. BURNS: It is part of her agenda. It will also be high in the agenda of the Vice President when he meets Prime Minister Chernomyrdin next week in Moscow for the fifth Gore-Chernomyrdin meeting. We're looking forward to that. The previous four meetings have been highly productive. They have provided opportunities for us to make a number of breakthroughs on science and technology issues, on some economic issues.

The HEU agreement, because it is so important to both countries, is certainly going to be fully discussed at that particular meeting.

Q Are you expecting any sort of breakthrough after that?

MR. BURNS: I don't want to be in a position of predicting breakthroughs. We're always hopeful for progress, and particularly on this one, because a lot is at stake. As you remember, this is a multi- billion dollar arrangement whereby we purchase highly enriched uranium that is then diluted into low enriched uranium and is used to power our own nuclear power plants. It has a number of benefits to the United States and to Russia. It speaks directly to our concern about proliferation.

So, therefore, given some of the concerns we've had about how this deal has been implemented over the last two years, it has been slower off the mark than we had hoped. The Vice President will take it up with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin.

Under Secretary Davis will accompany the Vice President to Moscow for these meetings, so you might look at her discussions with Mr. Mamedov as preliminary discussions to the Vice President's meeting.

Q What's the specific date of the Moscow talks?

MR. BURNS: I believe it's June 28, but I might stand corrected. It's next week, and there are usually two full days of meetings.

Q Would you say that the HEU problem is the main focus this time?

MR. BURNS: I wouldn't say it's the main focus. As you know, the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission has an exceedingly broad agenda. There are, at latest count, seven Cabinet Secretaries and Russian Ministers who attend on both sides. There are working groups in various fields. It really spans the range of everything from economic reform -- Under Secretary of Treasury Larry Sommers participates in these discussions -- to defense conversion, Defense Secretary Perry regularly participates in these discussions; to environmental matters, Carol Browner, the EPA Director, is involved. It's very broad.

So I wouldn't want to pick out one issue and say that's the point of the meeting. They'll be a great number of issues that will be discussed.

Q There were some rumors about the death of Deng Xiaoping. Have you heard anything of that?

MR. BURNS: No, we haven't. I'm not aware that we've heard recently any rumors to this effect.

Q Do you have a comment on the South and North Korean rice agreement, which was announced yesterday, after your yesterday's comment?

MR. BURNS: Yes, I do. We understand that South Korea's Deputy Premier and Minister of Reunification has announced an agreement to provide North Korea with 150,000 tons of rice on a grant basis. We also understand that the two sides will meet again in July to continue discussions on the subject of South Korean supplies of humanitarian food aid to North Korea.

We welcome this agreement and fully support and encourage future direct contacts and further direct contacts between North and South Korea.

Q Another topic? I know that both you and the White House and the Pentagon have said quite a bit about the nuclear testing situation. But I'm still not clear. Is it U.S. policy to request a resumption of U.S. testing after September 30, 1996? Do you have a reaction to possible Russian testing?

The word "experiment" has been used. Does the word "experiment" actually mean nuclear testing, or is it a laboratory experiment?

MR. BURNS: On your second question, I have no indication of a Russian decision to resume testing. I have not heard that publicly or privately. I have just no information on that.

On the first question, when the President announced his decision, we were assuming, of course, that a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be signed before September 30, 1996. On January 29 of this year, when the President made the decision to extend our nuclear test moratorium, it was on, of course, this basis.

We've said on numerous occasions that we consider observation of a moratorium on nuclear testing to be the most favorable environment in which negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in Geneva might be successful, and we fully hope that that will be the case.

On your third question, which is a very good question and also a very complex question, we have said repeatedly that under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty the question of what kinds of experiments and other stockpile stewardship activities would be permitted under the treaty is one of the most challenging issues for the negotiators. I think I outlined on Monday the criteria that we bring to that question. So I think our position there is fairly clear.

Q So experiments -- the word "experiment" in general means test -- means nuclear test?

MR. BURNS: "Experiments" means experiments. I'm not going to try to -- I'm not a scientist. I'm not going to try to define that word more broadly for you. I think we've made clear to the countries with which we are negotiating our concerns and the criteria that we would bring to this central question of how a nation can reliably be a steward of its nuclear stockpile, and there are a number of questions that we bring to that. I can list them for you again, if you'd like, but I did go over them the other day.

Q But on the word "steward," that's another -- is that also a euphemism for testing?

MR. BURNS: It's not a euphemism for testing -- the word "steward" -- we have a responsibility to be a steward of our stockpile of nuclear weapons and to make sure that the reliability of those weapons can be assured. That is, of course, the responsibility that other countries that have nuclear weapons bring to this issue.

It's highly complex and defining what is permitted within a potential treaty is now one of the most challenging questions that is being faced by the negotiators. So you will understand my reluctance to go into too much detail about an issue that's being negotiated in private.

Q Just one more on this. Then the bottom line appears to be that the world is moving toward allowing testing after '96 -- allowing a resumption of some quantity of testing.

MR. BURNS: I wouldn't agree with the direction of your question. I think the President and Secretary Christopher have made clear many times that our objective is the successful negotiation and conclusion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by September 1996. That is our first and foremost goal.

Q Has Secretary Christopher taken a position on this arcane issue -- arcane but obviously controversial issue -- of hydro-nuclear experiments?

MR. BURNS: I think as I said the other day, Carol, I'm reluctant to go into who has what position in the interagency process. This question is under discussion in the U.S. Government, and I just don't think it's appropriate for me to detail in public what any Cabinet agency's view is on this, including that of the Department of State.

Q Without exposing his position, has he, in fact, come down on one side or the other?

MR. BURNS: I know that this issue is being actively discussed in the Department and, when it's appropriate and time for us to reveal the position of the U.S. Government -- which is really the important thing here, what decision will the President make on that -- then we will certainly do that. But I just don't want to get into a detailed discussion of what is going on here in private.

Q Back on China. Is there an attempt by the United States to reopen discussions with the Chinese?

MR. BURNS: We have said many times, including since the recent difficulties and troubles began with the Chinese concerning the issue of the visa to President Lee -- we've said many times that we are interested in a continuous dialogue with the Chinese Government because our relationship with China is so important.

When Secretary Christopher met Foreign Minister Qian in New York on April 17, they discussed their mutual desire to see a periodic level -- a set of high-level meetings occur at the Under Secretary level in the United States, Deputy Foreign Minister level in China. We hope very much that those discussions will occur in the future.

We also have in mind lower level discussions with the Chinese on a variety of issues, and we would hope very much that those would take place. At this point China has cancelled a number of those mid and lower level meetings, and we're sorry to see that. We hope that it will be possible to convince the Chinese to continue those discussions very soon.

Q You know of nothing since the recall of the Ambassador?

MR. BURNS: Nothing concerning --

Q A U.S. initiative to hold high-level talks to --

MR. BURNS: I can't speak, George, for what we are -- I can't recount exactly what we're saying to the Chinese every day. I can just tell you that this general offer of both high, mid and low-level meetings is on the table. I know it was on the table before the visa decision; after the visa decision, I'm sure it's still on the table.

Q On the issue of talks and the Chinese, is anyone in the Department meeting the Taiwanese economic team that's in town tomorrow?

MR. BURNS: We have unofficial relations with Taiwan, and so therefore it wouldn't be appropriate for officials at the State Department to have meetings with officials with whom we have unofficial relations. Therefore, I don't believe that there will be such meetings.

Q Chechnya. Do you have an update? There's a report that Russia has issued an ultimatum with a time period by which Mr. Basayev, the leader of the terrorists, should be handed over or turn himself over?

MR. BURNS: The cease-fire appears to be holding. As you know, the cease-fire that both sides have agreed to is set to hold through June 23. Under the auspices of the OSCE, peace talks are continuing in Grozny. The two sides are also discussing political, economic and military issues.

We're glad to see this. We have felt for a long time that the road to peace in Chechnya will be through political discussions. We are very gratified to see that both the Russian Government and the Chechen leadership has decided that it is time to sit down at the table, and we would encourage both sides to treat these talks seriously and to see their way through to a permanent cease-fire, and to a resolution of their problems through political and not through military means.

Q Is this cease-fire sort of finite?

MR. BURNS: It's hard to say how long the cease-fire will hold. As I said, it's only set to last through June 23. I have seen press reports this morning that the Russian Government is threatening to disrupt the cease-fire and to resume fighting if some of the rebel commandos that were involved in the Budyonnovsk incident over the weekend are not delivered to the Russian military authorities.

So we'll just have to wait and see what happens in this particular situation. But the view of the United States is clear, and that is we believe that the cease-fire is constructive, and we hope it will hold as long as possible and become permanent.

Q Can I follow up on that. So you think that if the Russians - - apparently it was Commander Kulikov who made that threat, and there was a Russian Government official that has since sort of repudiated it - - but you think that if they went forward with military action, if the Chechens responsible for the hostage-taking are not turned over to them, that would be a bad idea?

MR. BURNS: I wouldn't phrase it in that way. I think the Russian and Chechen leaderships are very much aware of our view, and that is that there is no military solution to this conflict that will resolve the conflict; that only sitting down and negotiating their differences will resolve the conflict, and I think I'll leave it there.

Q On North Korea again. Has there been any development on the possible date of opening of the liaison office between the U.S. and North Korea?

MR. BURNS: We don't have a date for that step. That is one of the activities that could occur, that we hope will occur as the Agreed Framework is fully implemented. Now we have just resolved one of the problems under the Agreed Framework concerning light-water reactors. We have a team in North Korea that's negotiating the oil problem and also the spent fuel problem, and so I think we need to move along and resolve some of these other issues before we can take the step of opening liaison offices.

Q Possible movement on the oil?

MR. BURNS: Not that I'm aware of. Not yet.

Q Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:39 p.m.)


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