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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-15

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Sofia tripartite meeting calls for inviolability of borders in Balkans
  • [02] Athens dismisses Turkish reaction concerning Greek islet
  • [03] Papandreou to visit FYROM, Albania next week
  • [04] PM talks with Finnish counterpart on Kosovo crisis
  • [05] Special emissary of Papandreou leaves for Beijing
  • [06] Karamanlis proposes EPP initiative for peace in Yugoslavia
  • [07] Simitis announces PASOK'S ticket for the Euroelections
  • [08] Three Turkish fishermen to appear before Lesvos court
  • [09] Archbishop Christodoulos accuses NATO of "double standards"
  • [10] Interior minister opens Xanthi bypass
  • [11] Cyprus, Greece sign memorandum of cooperation of EU matters
  • [12] Stocks finish up, boosted by smaller cap firms
  • [13] Minister asks firms to lower profit margins
  • [14] Bankruptcies drop 5.0 pct in April
  • [15] PPC launches construction of new plant
  • [16] National Bank of Greece shows profit jump in Q1
  • [17] Greece to seek 50 pct jump in EU health funds
  • [18] Athens Foreign Exchange

  • [01] Sofia tripartite meeting calls for inviolability of borders in Balkans

    SOFIA (ANA - B. Borisov) - Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his counterparts from Bulgaria Nadezhda Mihailova and Romania Andrei Plesu yesterday expressed support for a political and peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict based on recent proposals by the G8 foreign ministers, during talks held at the "Starkelovo Gnezhdo" resort near Sofia.

    Addressing reporters after the meeting, Bulgarian foreign ministry spokesman Ratko Vlajkov said the three ministers underlined the need for the inviolability of existing borders in the Balkans to be honoured both at present and in the future.

    According to Mr. Vlajkov, the tripartite meeting in Sofia was assessed as confirmation of the European model being followed by Athens, Bucharest and Sofia.

    The Bulgarian diplomat said the details of the finalised text on the meeting, to be publicised during a press conference today, were clarified yesterday.

    "Here we shall continue the very useful and fruitful cooperation between our three countries," Mr. Papandreou told reporters on arrival at Sofia airport.

    "We shall exchange views on how we can work together for stability in the Balkans and particularly on the Kosovo crisis in light of diplomatic initiatives which have been in progress in recent weeks," he added.

    "There is an aspect of particular importance - the so-called 'day after'. What we quite clearly want is to ensure that the Balkan region is not forgotten 'the day after'. The international community must be at our side, ready and willing to invest both financially and politically, and to help resolve security issues, so that we can work towards the rapid integration of the entire region in Euro-Atlantic structures," Mr. Papandreou said.

    Mr. Papandreou announced that President Kostis Stephanopoulos would pay an official visit to Bulgaria at the end of May.

    Replying to press questions, Mr. Papandreou described Greece's initiative to make Thessaloniki the coordinating centre for actions related to the post-war reconstruction and development of the Balkans as "a logical choice".

    "We are the only member of the European Union in the region and the EU will be the biggest source of aid for the restoration of the region. Greece is also a NATO member and the Alliance has a developed infrastructure in place in northern Greece - and th is is important with respect to security considerations," Mr. Papandreou said.

    Referring to other reasons why Thessaloniki should be the coordinating centre, Mr. Papandreou listed a number of practical advantages, including the fact that it is a major city with well developed transport, communications and other infrastructure.

    In addition, he said, the port city is in close geographical proximity to countries and areas where the effects of the Yugoslav conflict have been most acutely felt, such as Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) "and of course Kosov o itself".

    Meanwhile, Mr. Plesu told reporters shortly after arriving in Sofia that the tripartite meeting showed that the Balkans was not only a source of pessimism but also of "optimistic messages".

    "It is very important for us to show that the countries of the region can meet, discuss and build something, that they can do something positive. To show that the Balkans is not only an area of potential conflict but a region of dialogue and good will,"

    Mr. Plesu said. Athens News Agency

    [02] Athens dismisses Turkish reaction concerning Greek islet

    Athens yesterday snubbed Turkey's reaction to reports of a plan by a Greek couple to marry and settle on a Greek islet in the eastern Aegean.

    "Greece's positions on the Aegean are well-known and remain steadfast. The Greek government safeguards national interests. In any case, a wedding cannot constitute ground for political discussion and even more so, a field for creating problems," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    The reports, aired by several Greek TV channels, said the couple planned to marry and settle on the islet of Plati, east of Kalymnos in the Dodecanese complex.

    Earlier, according to a ANA despatch from Ankara, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman had char-ged that Greece was aiming to change the status of geographical formations in the Aegean, which was unacceptable, after Greek charge d'affaires Michalis Chr istidis had been summoned to the ministry.

    Commenting, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said, "no one can take such things seriously".

    "Greece is aiming to create impressions. A large number of the Aegean islands are of undetermined sovereignty and Turkey states that it has rights on them," he added.

    According to the Turkish NTV channel, Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hussein Kivrikoglu said Greece was trying to create a new crisis.

    Commenting on the issue, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos called on the government to take the appropriate actions, condemning Ankara's tactics.

    He said the Greek people "as a whole rejects Turkish fabrications of supposed grey areas in the Aegean". Athens News Agency

    [03] Papandreou to visit FYROM, Albania next week

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou (and not Prime Minister Costas Simitis as was erroneously reported in the Bulletin on Thursday) will be visiting the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania next week, to be followed by visits to Mosco w, Washington and Beijing. The tour is part of efforts to promote a political - diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis. On Tuesday he is also due to meet French counterpart Hubert Vedrine in Paris.

    Greece is convening an international conference on the humanitarian situation resulting from the Kosovo crisis in Thessaloniki next month. Mr. Papandreou has said that European Union member-states, the US and Russia have agreed on the convening of this conference and that China could be invited as well, along with representatives of the United Nations, the European Commission and international non-governmental organisations.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] PM talks with Finnish counterpart on Kosovo crisis

    The government said that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had been in telephone contact yesterday with his Finnish counterpart, Paavo Lipponen, concerning ongoing efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated that Greece was in favour of a peaceful settlement to the crisis and was of the view that a political solution should be sought within the framework of UN resolutions and initiatives such as the G8 draft p eace agreement.

    Mr. Reppas announced that Foreign Minister George Papandreou would shortly visit Finland for talks with the Finnish government on efforts to resolve the Kosovo crisis.

    Finland's president, Martti Ahtisaari, has recently come to the fore as a possible leading mediator in efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement of the crisis.

    Finland assumes the rotating EU presidency on July 1 but is not a NATO member. Replying meanwhile to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said that Greece had not changed its position with regard to the possible use of NATO ground troops in Kosovo.

    "Greece will not make its national air space available for the facilitation of ground operations in Kosovo," the spokesman said. Athens News Agency

    [05] Special emissary of Papandreou leaves for Beijing

    A special emissary of Foreign Minister George Papandreou left for Beijing yesterday to deliver a message from Mr. Papandreou to his Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan. The emissary, Sotiris Mousouris, will meet with senior Chinese government and foreign mi nistry officials on the need to strengthen diplomatic efforts for a political settlement in Kosovo.

    Mr. Mousouris, a former assistant to the UN secretary-general, will emphasise the need for the involvement in this process of the UN Security Council, of which China is a permanent member. Athens News Agency

    [06] Karamanlis proposes EPP initiative for peace in Yugoslavia

    Main opposition New Demcracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday proposed in a letter to the European People's Party (EPP) leader Wilfried Martens that the European conservatives undertake an initiative toward the peaceful solution of the Yugoslav cri sis.

    He also proposed that the EPP support the European Union accession prospects of the Balkan countries.

    Mr. Karamanlis proposed an international conference to take place in Thessaloniki on the problem, the creation of a three-member committee composed by a Kosovo Albanian, a Serb and a European leader - a notable and accepted Greek person.

    He also stressed the need for the region's restructuring following the war, which he wrote should include all countries in the Balkans. Athens News Agency

    [07] Simitis announces PASOK'S ticket for the Euroelections

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced yesterday the ruling socialists' ticket for next month's Euroelections and said it aimed at providing continuity and renewal.

    Heading the ruling party's list is present European Parliament deputy and university professor Dimitris Tsatsos. MP Yiannis Souladakis is second on the list.

    A total of four PASOK EuroMPs are up for re-election to the European Parliament. Also on the list are Deputy National Economy Minister Alekos Baltas and the former head of Greenpeace's office in Greece, Ilias Efthymiopoulos.

    Mr. Simitis reiterated that the ruling party did not consider the June polls to be any kind of "referendum" or "opinion poll", as claimed by the opposition.

    "It is a critical political contest for the European path which Greece has chosen," he said.

    European Parliament elections will be held across Europe June 10-13 for the 626-member assembly.

    Mr. Simitis praised the work of PASOK Eurodeputy Paraskevas Avgerinos who, he said, had expressed a desire to wind down his activities in Strasbourg after 15 years as a MEP and was placed 25th on the list as a symbolic gesture.

    Earlier this week, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announced its list of candidates, with MP Stratis Korakas at the top of a list including EuroMP Yiannis Theonas and Ioannina university professor Costas Alyssandrakis.

    Also on the KKE list is trade union activist Yiannis Pattakis, who played a leading role in extensive farmers' road blockades in 1995-1996 and journalist Liana Kanneli.

    Political Spring, which has representatives in the European Parliament but failed to get into the Greek parliament in the last national elections, will field a list headed by its president, former New Democracy foreign minister Antonis Samaras.

    Yet to announce their candidates for the European assembly are main opposition New Democracy, Coalition of the Left and Progress (who are due to present their candidates on May 16) and the Democratic Social Movement.

    New Democracy president Costas Karamanlis met earlier this week with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, a development which fuelled speculation that the popular Athens mayor would top the conservatives' list.

    Mr. Avramopoulos had earlier this year caused an uproar in the ranks of the centre-right when he said he was considering establishing his own party to run in June's poll.

    Also vying for a place in Strasbourg is the new party formed by former New Democracy national economy minister Stephanos Manos, "The Liberals".

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Three Turkish fishermen to appear before Lesvos court

    Three Turkish fishermen will appear before a Lesvos court on Monday, charged with illegal entry and fishing, as well as resisting arrest. The three were arrested by the Greek coastguard off the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Thursday.

    After the arrest, one of the three, Erol Yavuz, 38, from Ivacik, was taken to hospital in Lesvos for treatment of a minor wound in his left knee suffered when he resisted arrest and pulled a knife attacking one of the coastguard officers, who shot him i n the leg.

    According to port authorities, a coastguard patrol boat had spotted four Turkish trawlers inside Greek territorial waters, between the Mythimna and Sykaminia areas off the northern coast of the island.

    Three of the vessels left Greek waters after being warned by the Greek patrol boat. But the fourth trawler, the 7.5-foot-long "Yavuz", did not follow the other three, and coastguard officials arrested the three-member crew and transferred them to the Greek patrol boat. Athens News Agency

    [09] Archbishop Christodoulos accuses NATO of "double standards"

    Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece yesterday launched a stinging attack on NATO, using the example of Cyprus to accuse the Alliance of "double standards".

    Addressing a congregation in the Church of Aghios Nikolaos in Alexandroupoli, a port in north-east Greece near the border with Turkey, Archbishop Christodoulos referred to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia saying:

    "This relentless supposed implementation of international law, is unfortunately quite selective. In one case they show sensitivity while in another, insensitivity - at the expense of human values."

    Citing the example of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and subsequent occupation of one-third of the island republic's territory, Archbishop Christodoulos asked:

    "Where is the sensitivity of our allies for the drama of Cyprus, where are they who today are supposedly deeply concerned about human rights in Kosovo, the same people who for the past 25 years have tolerated (the occupation of Cyprus) in spite of the p rinciples which they profess and supposedly believe in?"

    Archbishop Christodoulos also spoke of the relations between the Orthodox Church and the Greek state which, he said, has always been beneficial not only for the people and the nation but also for the state itself.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Interior minister opens Xanthi bypass

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday opened to traffic a 6 km-long road bypassing the city of Xanthi. The road is part of the Egnatia motorway which will link the entire Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace regi on from west to east.

    The road absorbed about 1.2 billion drachmas which were obtained from European Union funds. Similar bypasses will be created in Kavala and Rodopi.

    "The rates of development of Thrace, based on funding by the 2nd Community Support Framework, are much higher than the average figure of the corresponding development of national income," she said on the occasion.

    Ms. Papandreou termed the project one of the most important being built in the country, while referring to Thrace she said "it has turned into a vast workshop."

    "The government places particular emphasis on upgrading eastern Macedonia and Thrace and results so far are visible. Our target is to make this border region of the country a dynamic region, because it is being called on to play an important role for al l the Balkans."

    Referring to the 3rd Community Support Framework, she said "a big part of the funds will be provided for infrastructure projects and for the further development of both Thrace and eastern Macedonia.

    Ms. Papandreou is continuing her tour of Thrace. Athens News Agency

    [11] Cyprus, Greece sign memorandum of cooperation of EU matters

    NICOSIA (ANA/CNA) - Cyprus and Greece signed here on Friday a memorandum of cooperation on European Union (EU) matters and outlined their joint strategy which focuses primarily on efforts to press on with a solution of the Cyprus problem and to promote Cy prus' bid to join the EU.

    The strategy also relates to increasing Cyprus' military deterrent as part of a joint Greco-Cypriot defence pact and reiterates that any offensive against Cyprus would constitute an act of war, as far as Greece is concerned.

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kasoulides, speaking at a press conference after their talks, pointed to the need for effective pressure on Turkey to shift from its intransigent stand and help open the road towards a settlement.

    Mr. Kasoulides and Mr. Kranidiotis indicated that neither Greece nor Cyprus have any other option but to comply with the EU embargo on Yugoslavia, as being left out in the cold, isolated from European partners, would not serve anybody's interests.

    Mr. Kranidiotis reiterated that the Cyprus problem is the top priority for Greece as it is linked to the country's security and said the joint strategy for a solution is based on four counts: Closer cooperation between Cyprus and Greece, promotion of C yprus' European accession course, pressing on with a resumption of a dialogue on the Cyprus problem and strengthening the Republic's military deterrent are the basis of this strategy, he explained.

    Replying to questions about Cyprus' and Greece's position in relation to the war in Yugoslavia, Mr. Kranidiotis said Cyprus must take into consideration what is happening in Europe.

    "Cyprus must adjust with the EU decision and overall, Cyprus' long term interests dictate adjustment with the EU course," Mr. Kranidiotis pointed out.

    Noting that Greece has already taken a somewhat different approach to the Yugoslav crisis, Mr. Kranidiotis said "if Greece were isolated, this would have affected our relations with Turkey and it would have an impact on Cyprus too."

    Commenting on the same issue, Mr. Kasoulides said "it is very important for Cyprus to show that it will not be any different from the other EU members." Mr. Kranidiotis was earlier in the day received by President Glafcos Clerides.

    He described the Presidential Palace meeting as "particularly constructive".

    He said he conveyed Prime Minister Costas Simitis' personal greetings and assured the Cypriot president that Greece stood by the side of Cyprus.

    He said Greece "supports efforts aimed at a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem, in the framework of UN resolutions".

    Mr. Kranidiotis noted that there was no concrete proposal for a solution, and that various ideas were being looked into, adding that the G8 and the UN Security Council had put forward a proposal for a meeting between the two sides.

    He said when this takes place, there will be something "more specific to talk about", adding that both Greece and Cyprus "support an effort, aimed at finding a solution, based on UN resolutions".

    Referring to the island's EU accession course, Mr. Kranidiotis said it is "proceeding smoothly" and that some problems in the negotiating process "have been overcome". Athens News Agency

    [12] Stocks finish up, boosted by smaller cap firms

    Equity prices ended a volatile week higher yesterday supported by strong buying interest for construction shares and smaller capitalisation stocks.

    The general index ended 0.89 percent higher at 4,032.22 points, off the day's highs. Turnover was 193.601 billion drachmas and volume 36,769,393 shares.

    Traders said the market easily remained around the 4,000 level because of high liquidity and positive prospects for the construction sector.

    Sector indices scored gains.

    Banks rose 0.28 percent, Leasing eased 0.21 percent, Insurance ended 0.04 percent up, Investment increased 0.95 percent, Industrials jumped 1.53 percent, Construction soared 7.63 percent, Miscellaneous fell 0.27 percent and Holding rose 1.81 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.81 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index increased 0.15 percent to 2,407.28.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 229 to 60 with another nine issues unchanged.

    A total of 91 issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up. Among them were Ergodata, Bank of Central Greece, St.George Mills, Proodeftiki, Michaniki, Alte, Esha, Attica Enterprises, Klonatex and Fanco.

    ANEK Lines, Crete Plastics, Keranis, Lampsa, Rilken, Atermon, Teletypos, Metrolife, Hellenic Sugar and Spyrou suffered the heaviest percentage losses.

    Thessaliki, Altec, Sanyo and Strintzis were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 21,500 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 995, Ergobank at 29,050, Ionian Bank at 17,300, Titan Cement at 27,050, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,800, Intracom at 23,380, Minoan Lines at 8,300, Panafon at 7,950 and Hellenic Telec oms at 7,630.

    -- Bond prices slump in heavy trade:-- Bond prices shed around 50 basis points yesterday in heavy turnover in the last two hours of the session following a decline in markets abroad on higher-than-expected U.S. inflation.

    Electronic trade totalled 156 billion drachmas from 53 billion drachmas in the previous session and 109 billion drachmas on Wednesday.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 103.5, showing a yield of 5.75 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 165 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, the euro gained against the dollar in line with markets abroad. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.840 drachmas from 325.390 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Minister asks firms to lower profit margins

    A number of businesses could lower their profit margins to help in an effort by monetary authorities to achieve the euro-entry inflation criterion this year, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi, Mr. Venizelos said he expected oil prices to fall, which would help inflation to decline.

    He noted that reducing labour costs per product unit had contributed to the fall in inflation.

    "I think that lowering inflation is the duty of the whole of society in order to achieve the targets for participation in EMU," Mr. Venizelos said.

    He added that the government would seek reaffirmation, on a daily basis, of a "gentlemen's agreement" between the ministry and businesses to freeze or lower prices.

    Referring to the likely impact on inflation from high banking profitability, he said that banks should work towards easing the cost of money and expenses. Athens News Agency

    [14] Bankruptcies drop 5.0 pct in April

    Company bankruptcies fell by five percent in April compared with the same month last year while bounced checks rose by 11 percent in the same period, the Union of Greek Banks said yesterday.

    The number of bankruptcies fell to 71 in April from 75 in April 1998. The total fell six percent in January-April.

    Applications for bankruptcy rose 15 percent in the month to 259 from 225 last year.

    The number of bounced checks totalled 10,553 in April, worth 21.1 billion drachmas, up from 9,528 checks worth 18 billion drachmas in the same month of last year.

    The total value of bounced checks in the first four months of 1999 rose by 16 percent to 91.7 billion drachmas. Athens News Agency

    [15] PPC launches construction of new plant

    The Public Power Corporation (PPC), Greece's state electricity utility, has started construction of a new power station in Komotini, northern Greece.

    The new station will use Russian natural gas for its operation.

    The station is located on land bought by PPC from the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank.

    The project will cost 80 billion drachmas and will be operational in three years. Capacity will start at 300 Megawatts, eventually totalling 470 MW.

    The project also envisages construction of dams and an artificial lake to ensure water supplies for the station and agricultural units in the region.

    Meanwhile, PPC is expected to begin operation of a new power station in Drama by June with a capacity of 100 MW. Athens News Agency

    [16] National Bank of Greece shows profit jump in Q1

    The National Bank of Greece Group reported a spectacular 92.1 percent increase in its consolidated pre-tax profits to 81.9 billion drachmas in the first quarter of 1999 compared with the same period last year.

    The parent bank's net pre-tax profits totalled 61.1 billion drachmas in the first quarter, up 65.7 percent from the previous year.

    The bank's governor, Theodore Karatzas, attributed the spectacular rise in profits to better operational results and increased activity in money and capital markets.

    The bank's net interest income increased by 9.1 percent, while commission rose by 27 percent in the same period.

    Mr. Karatzas said the bank's operational spending growth slowed to 6.2 percent in the first quarter compared with a 9.9 percent increase in the same period last year.

    The group's efficiency factor rose to around 53 percent, which compares with the biggest financial institutions in Europe.

    Commenting on a possible privatisation of Commercial Bank, Mr. Karatzas said that National Bank always examined every new opportunity in the domestic market.

    Referring to interest rates, he said the bank was expecting a signal from the Bank of Greece on monetary policy. Athens News Agency

    [17] Greece to seek 50 pct jump in EU health funds

    The government is to seek 50 percent higher funding for health and welfare under the European Union's Third Community Support Framework being drafted than allocated under the existing Second CSF, Health Minister Lambros Papademas said yesterday.

    Speaking in Thessaloniki, Mr. Papadimas said that the funds would be used to improve existing hospitals rather than build new ones. Athens News Agency

    [18] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 14,1999 Banknotes Buying Selling

    US Dollar 302.143 309.149 Can.Dollar 207.030 211.830 Australian Dlr 201.564 206.238 Pound Sterling 487.806 499.116 Irish Punt 409.162 418.649 Pound Cyprus 557.008 569.922 Pound Malta 722.968 753.092 Turkish pound (100) 0.068 0.071 French franc 49.126 50.265 Swiss franc 201.078 205.740 Belgian franc 7.988 8.173 German Mark 164.759 168.579 Finnish Mark 54.197 55.454 Dutch Guilder 146.227 149.617 Danish Kr. 43.358 44.364 Swedish Kr. 35.998 36.832 Norwegian Kr. 39.400 40.314 Austrian Sh. 23.418 23.961 Italian lira (100) 16.643 17.029 Yen (100) 247.127 252.857 Spanish Peseta 1.936 1.981 Port. Escudo 1.607 1.644

    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling New York 302.143 309.149 Montreal 207.030 211.830 Sydney 201.564 206.238 london 487.806 499.116 Dublin 409.162 418.649 Nicosia 557.008 569.922 Paris 49.126 50.265 Zurich 201.078 205.740 Brussels 7.988 8.173 Frankfurt 164.759 168.579 Helsinki 54.197 55.454 Amsterdam 146.227 149.617 Copenhagen 43.358 44.364 Stockholm 35.998 36.832 Oslo 39.400 40.314 Vienna 23.418 23.961 Milan 16.643 17.029 Tokyo 247.127 252.857 Madrid 1.936 1.981 Lisbon 1.607 1.644 Athens News Agency/END

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