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  • French Jews flee Paris suburbs over rising anti-Semitism 

    French soldiers stand guard outside the 'La Source' Jewish school in Marseille, southern France, on January 12, 2016When Alain Benhamou walked into his apartment near Paris in July 2015 and saw the words "dirty Jew" scrawled on the wall, he knew it was time to leave. "Until the years 2000-2005, the town was nice and quiet, with 250 to 300 Jewish families and synagogues full on the Sabbath," Benhamou says. Benhamou is part of a growing number of French Jews who have effectively become internal refugees, fleeing insecurity and seeking protection in numbers in an atmosphere they say is increasingly hostile, and often expressed in relation to conflict in the Middle East.

  • NATO urged to ward off 'serious' Russian challenge 

    Russian soldiers patrol the area surrounding the Ukrainian military unit in Perevalnoye, outside Simferopol, on March 20, 2014NATO's parliamentary assembly on Monday called on members of the Western military alliance to be ready to respond to the "potential threat" of Russian aggression against them. The assembly issued a unanimous declaration of proposals after a three-day meeting in Tirana, ahead of a landmark NATO summit in Warsaw in July. "The challenge from Russia is real and serious," said Michael Turner, the US president of the assembly, which gathered around 250 lawmakers from the 28 member states.

  • Kerry to head to China for talks 

    US Secretary of State John Kerry gives a press conference during a foreign affairs ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on May 19, 2016Top US diplomat John Kerry will travel to Beijing for talks on a range of issues as part of a trip that will also take him to Mongolia and France, the State Department said Monday. The June 5-7 visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing over the Asian giant's military expansion in the South China Sea. The United States disputes China's sovereignty in the region and has conducted several "freedom of navigation" operations in which it deliberately sails or flies close to the islands, attracting the ire of Beijing.

  • Bahrain doubles opposition leader jail term 

    Bahraini men hold placards bearing the portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest on May 29, 2016 against his arrestA Bahrain court more than doubled a jail sentence against opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman Monday, in a ruling his bloc warned risked stoking fresh unrest among the Sunni-ruled kingdom's Shiite majority. Salman's Al-Wefaq bloc condemned the verdict as "unacceptable and provocative", warning that it "entrenches the exacerbating political crisis" in Bahrain. Human rights group Amnesty International issued a statement denouncing the verdict as "clearly" politically motivated.

  • Egypt detains journalist union chief over 'false news' 

    The head of the Egyptian journalists union, Yahiya Kallash protests with journalists against the arrest of two reporters on May 4, 2016 in CairoThe head of Egypt's press syndicate and two colleagues were in custody Monday after being charged with harbouring journalists and publishing false news, a lawyer and one of them said. The arrests, which Amnesty International denounced as a "draconian clampdown" on media freedom in Egypt, comes weeks after the arrest of two reporters on allegations of incitement to protest. Union chief Yahiya Kallash had denounced the arrests earlier this month and told a news conference that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government is "escalating the war against journalism and journalists".

  • Polish minister says missile shield no threat to Russia: report The U.S. missile shield to be located in Poland does not pose a threat to Russia's security, Poland's state-run news agency PAP quoted Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski as saying on Sunday. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Poland and Romania could find themselves in the sights of Russian rockets because they are hosting elements of a U.S. missile shield that Moscow considers a threat to its security. "President Putin should know very well that the anti-missile shield in Poland has no relevance to Russian security.
  • Syria rebels attacked by IS militants, government troops 

    FILE - In this Sunday Feb. 15, 2015 file photo and provided on by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels firing locally made shells against the Syrian government forces, in Aleppo, Syria. Islamic State militants entered a Syrian opposition stronghold in the country's north on Saturday, clashing with rebels on the edges of the town as the extremist group built on its most significant advance near the Turkish border in two years, Syrian opposition groups and IS media said. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants entered a major Syrian opposition stronghold in the country's north on Saturday, clashing with rebels on the edges of the town as the extremist group builds on its most significant advance near the Turkish border in two years — even as it loses ground elsewhere in the country and in neighboring Iraq.

  • Arab League chief denounces Israel at peace talks meeting 

    Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C-L) Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat (2-L), Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (2-R) speak during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers, on May 28, 2016Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi blasted Israel as a bastion of "fascism and racial discrimination" on Saturday at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers that backed France's Middle East peace initiative. The Arab ministers at the end of the meeting adopted a resolution backing "the French initiative and all Arab and international efforts" for peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. In his speech to the ministers, Arabi, who has been a vocal critic of Israel, said the country "has truly become today the last bastion of fascism, colonialism and racial discrimination in the world".

  • Palestinian leader wants time cap for any talks with Israel CAIRO (AP) — The Palestinian president said Saturday that if an upcoming Paris conference succeeds in relaunching the long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, it should also set a time cap and mechanisms to implement their resolutions.
  • NATO in parliamentary session in Albania on its challenges TIRANA, Albania (AP) — NATO's Parliamentary Assembly has opened a meeting in Tirana, Albania, to discuss the alliance's response to a variety of challenges ahead of a summit in July.
  • Haj row escalates as Iran and Saudi Arabia miss new deal An Iranian delegation has left Saudi Arabia without an agreement for its citizens to attend the Muslim haj pilgrimage this year, Saudi media have reported, a second failure by the rival Middle East powers to strike a deal. Relations between the two countries plummeted after hundreds of Iranians died in a crush during last year's haj and after Riyadh broke diplomatic ties when its Tehran embassy was stormed in January over the Saudi execution of a Shi'ite cleric. The dispute has provided another arena for discord between the conservative Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the revolutionary Shi'ite republic of Iran, which back opposing sides in Syria and other conflicts across the region.
  • U.S. 'concerned' about Libyan-Americans on trial in UAE: official The U.S. State Department said on Friday it was "concerned" about the case of two Libyan-American businessmen charged by the United Arab Emirates with supporting Libyan militants amid allegations they were tortured into signing a confession. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the case of Kamal Eldarat and his son, Mohamed Eldarat, had been raised with UAE officials by the U.S. ambassador. The Eldarats were initially charged with terrorism-related offenses, but the prosecutor in March changed the charges to providing support to Libyan militants and collecting donations without state permission.
  • Turkey enraged by 'unacceptable' US backing of Kurdish militia 

    Armed men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic forces as US special operations forces ride in a pickup truck in the village of Fatisah, in the northern Syrian province of Raqa on May 25, 2016The United States scrambled Friday to avert a rift with its ally Turkey after AFP pictures revealed US commandos operating in Syria wearing the insignia of a Kurdish militia branded a terror group by Ankara. The Pentagon announced that special operations troops in northern Syria would henceforth stop wearing the badge of the YPG guerrillas, after Turkey accused the United States of "unacceptable" behavior.

  • Israeli Christian wins first 'Miss Trans Israel' pageant 

    Contestants in the first Miss Trans Israel beauty pageant practice the walk on the stage during rehearsal in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, May 26, 2016. The pageant will be held at HaBima, Israel's national theater, in Tel Aviv on Friday. Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world's most LGBT-friendly travel destinations, standing in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Middle East, where gays can face persecution. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — An Israeli from a Catholic Arab family has been crowned the winner of the country's first transgender pageant.

  • IS grabs territory from Syrian rebels near Turkish border 

    Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, speaks during a news conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, May 26, 2016. De Mistura says he’ll speak to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday and announce afterward plans for a resumption of stalled peace talks between the government and the opposition. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — Militants of the Islamic State group on Friday seized a string of villages from Syrian rebels near the Turkish border in rapid advances that forced the evacuation of a hospital and trapped tens of thousands of people amid heavy fighting, Syrian opposition activists and an international medical organization said.

  • Turkey visitors down over 30% in April as tourism slumps 

    People walk past the illuminated New Mosque in Istanbul on January 25, 2016The number of foreigners visiting Turkey crashed by almost 30 percent in April as tourists stayed away due to security fears following a wave of attacks and tensions with Russia, statistics showed Friday. Some 1.75 million foreigners came to Turkey in April, down 28.07 percent on April 2015, the tourism ministry said in its latest release. Arrivals from Russia were down 79.3 percent, with tourism from what was once a key consumer of tours to Turkey almost wiped out by the row over Ankara's shooting down of a Russian plane in November last year.

  • AP PHOTOS: Editor selections of the week in the Mideast 

    FILE - A fighter with Badr Brigades an armed Shiite group under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces loads his rifle as Iraqi security forces and allied Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces and Sunni tribal fighters, take combat positions outside Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, May 23, 2016. Iraqi government forces on Monday pushed Islamic State militants out of some agricultural areas outside Fallujah as they launched a military offensive to recapture the city from the extremists, officials said. (AP Photo/Rwa Faisal)In Egypt, candlelight vigils have been held for the victims of EgyptAir flight 804. The cause of last week's crash of the EgyptAir jet flying from Paris to Cairo that killed all 66 people on board still has not been determined. Ships and planes from Egypt, Greece, France, the United States and other nations are searching the Mediterranean Sea north of the Egyptian port of Alexandria for the jet's voice and flight data recorders.

  • Iran sticking to nuclear deal: UN watchdog 

    A UN atomic watchdog report says Iran "has not pursued the construction of the existing Arak heavy water research reactor"Iran is still complying with the July 2015 landmark nuclear deal with major powers, a report from the UN atomic watchdog seen by AFP showed on Friday. The International Atomic Energy Agency's second quarterly assessment since the accord came into force on January 16 showed that Iran was meeting its main commitments. The report showed that Iran "has not pursued the construction of the existing Arak heavy water research reactor" and has "not enriched uranium" above low levels.

  • WHO: Nearly 960 killed in attacks on hospitals in 2 years 

    FILE - In this Tuesday, June 30, 2015 file photo, People stand amid wreckage of a vehicle at the site of a car bomb attack near a military hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. The World Health Organization says nearly 1,000 people have been killed worldwide in attacks on medical facilities in conflicts over the past two years in violation of humanitarian norms. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 960 people have been killed worldwide in attacks on medical facilities in conflicts over the past two years, the World Health Organization said in a report Thursday that highlighted an alarming disrespect for the protection of health care in war by both governments and armed groups.

  • New Israeli defence minister's tough talk to be put to the test 

    Israeli hardline MP and head of Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman talks to the press during a meeting in Jerusalem on May 23, 2016Israel's newly named Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has pledged harsh actions against Palestinians, but there are doubts over whether the hardliner will be able to translate his provocative political rhetoric into concrete action. Lieberman will be in charge not only of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, but also of the military bodies that rule Palestinian life in much of the territory. "At the end of the day, we're bound to international law," a defence ministry official said.

  • Israeli air force targets Gaza sites after rocket attack 

    Graffiti in Gaza City commemorating the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" in Arabic, a reference to the establishment in 1948 of the state of Israel in the then British-mandate PalestineThe Israeli air force carried out strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza early Thursday in response to a rocket attack targeting the Jewish state, the army and Palestinian officials said. In response, the Israeli air force "targeted two Hamas sites in the southern Gaza Strip," the military said in a statement. A statement from Ajnad Beit al-Maqdis, a small Salafist jihadi group, claimed the rocket attack, which came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sealed a deal to bring hardline nationalist Avigdor Lieberman into his coalition as defence minister.

  • Australian lawmaker links trade dispute with asylum seekers CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's deputy prime minister is being criticized for suggesting that a temporary ban on cattle exports to Indonesia five years ago hindered ties with Jakarta that contributed to an influx of asylum seekers arriving on Australian shores by boats from Indonesia.
  • New Zealand budget flags concerns over Brexit 

    A British exit from the European Union would plunge the two parties into a messy divorce and force them build a new relationship after a marriage of more than 40 yearsNew Zealand said Thursday its budget was in the black and predicted ongoing surpluses, but warned a British exit from the European Union could pose economic risks if it hit key exports like lamb and dairy. The former British colony was badly affected in the early 1970s when London joined the European market, slashing its access for crucial agricultural exports like dairy -- the country's biggest export earner -- in a single stroke. Treasury papers released in Thursday's New Zealand budget said the so-called Brexit was a factor that could derail the strong economic performance Wellington expects over the next few years.

  • Hot topics at the G7 summit in Japan 

    World leaders kick off two days of G7 talks in Japan with the creaky global economy, terrorism and refugeesIse-Shima (Japan) (AFP) - Leaders of the Group of Seven industrial democracies meet in Japan Thursday for two days of talks. Here are the hot topics up for discussion at Ise-Shima, a resort 300 kilometres (200 miles) southwest of Tokyo, and what to expect from the talks. The slowing of China's once-dependable growth means G7 leaders now have to look elsewhere for a boost.

  • UN alarmed by Hamas move to hold executions in Gaza 

    Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council that public executions are prohibited under international human rights law and that any such killings in the Gaza Strip would be carried out without the approval of Palestinian President Mahmud AbbasThe UN envoy for the Middle East expressed alarmed on Wednesday after Hamas authorities in the Gaza strip moved to hold public executions, and urged them to change course. Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council that public executions are prohibited under international human rights law and that any such killings in the Gaza Strip would be carried out without the approval of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, which is required under Palestinian law. "I urge Hamas not to carry out these executions and call on President Abbas to establish a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty," Mladenov told the council by video-conference.

  • Greek police evacuate 1,000 more migrants from squalid camp 

    Women queue for food at a gas station near the Greek-Macedonian border on May 25, 2016 in Polykastro as Greek police evacuate the sprawling Idomeni migrant campGreek police on Wednesday moved another 1,000 migrants out of Idomeni, the squalid tent city where thousands fleeing war and poverty have lived for months, on the second day of an operation likely to last a week. The migrants, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, were bussed from the camp on the Macedonian border to newly opened centres near Greece's second city Thessaloniki, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south, bringing the total moved out to 3,000 since Tuesday.

  • Egypt deports French journalist in latest crackdown on press CAIRO (AP) — Egypt deported a French journalist without explanation, the reporter said Wednesday, the latest move in an ongoing crackdown by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government on freedom of expression and the media.
  • EU arms exports to Egypt fuel killings, torture: Amnesty 

    Egyptian security forces cordon off a street in Cairo's Doqqi neighbourhoodAmnesty International has accused nearly half of the European Union's members of fuelling killings and torture among other abuses in Egypt through arms exports, in a report issued on Wednesday. International organisations have accused Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of running an ultra-authoritarian and repressive regime since he deposed his democratically elected Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013. In its report, Amnesty said "12 out of 28 EU member states have remained among Egypt's main suppliers of arms and policing equipment".

  • Clearout of Greek refugee camp should reopen economic artery 

    People walk through fields after they were sent out during a police operation to evacuate a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of IdomeniBy Lefteris Papadimas and Angeliki Koutantou IDOMENI, Greece (Reuters) - Greece has sent in police and bulldozers to clear out Europe's biggest refugee camp because of the deteriorating humanitarian conditions there, but the operation should also unblock a vital artery for the ailing economy. The Idomeni camp, recently home to as many as 8,000 migrants and refugees, had spread out across a railway track on the Macedonian border, choking off Greece's main rail route to the rest of Europe. It has also complicated the privatization of the country's rail freight business, a condition of its international bailout.

  • 2,000 migrants moved from Greek border camp 

    Greek authorities predict it will take 10 days to clear all the 8,400 refugees and migrants from a makeshift camp on the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni, on May 24, 2016Greek police on Tuesday transferred some two thousand migrants out of the overcrowded camp of Idomeni, launching a major operation to clear up the squalid tent city where thousands fleeing war and poverty have lived for months. The operation began at dawn, and by evening officials said they had put 2,031 people on buses to newly opened camps near Greece's second city Thessaloniki, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the south. A hundred of them refused to enter the new centre and headed off by foot to downtown Thessaloniki, a police source said.

  • Strike on Taliban chief shows dimming US hopes for Afghan peace 

    A Pakistani demonstrator holds a burning US flag during a protest in Multan on May 24, 2016, against a US drone strike in Pakistan's southwestern province BalochistanThe US killing of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour marks a significant shift for President Barack Obama, highlighting a new willingness to target the group's leaders in Pakistan and risk retaliatory attacks against struggling Afghan security forces. The move also shows that Obama has -- at least for now -- abandoned hopes of bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table for peace talks. US drones killed Mansour on Saturday in a remote area in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, the first known American assault on a top Afghan Taliban leader on Pakistani soil.

  • Syrian base used by Russia damaged in IS attack: report 

    Russia launched its Syria bombing campaign on September 30Satellite imagery appears to show extensive damage to an air base in Syria used by Russian forces following an attack by fighters from the Islamic State group, US intelligence company Stratfor said Tuesday. The claim was immediately denied by Russia's defence ministry which said that the damage had been there for months and was due to fighting between Syrian government forces and "militants from terror groups". Stratfor released satellite images dated from May 14 and May 17, implying that the damage to the T-4 base, also known as Tiyas, was caused in that time.

  • The Latest: Russia denies losing helicopters at Syrian base 

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, the wreckage of burned vehicles is seen at the site of a bombing, in the coastal towns of Tartus, Syria, Monday, May 23, 2016. A series of rare explosions including suicide bombings rocked coastal government strongholds in Syria Monday, killing several people and wounding dozens more, state media and opposition activists said. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks. (SANA via AP)BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the violence in Syria a day after deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State group targeted government strongholds (all times local):

  • After Austria election, a look at Europe right wing parties 

    FILE - In this May 22, 2016 file picture Norbert Hofer presidential candidate for Austria's Freedom Party, FPOE, waves during an election party in Vienna, Austria. The right-wing candidate in Austria's presidential election has acknowledged defeat to a left-leaning rival, in a Facebook post thanking his backers for their support Monday May 23, 2016. . (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, filr)BERLIN (AP) — Right-winger Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party narrowly lost Austria's presidential runoff this week. Though he didn't win, the contest was viewed in Europe as a proxy fight pitting the continent's political center against its growing populist and anti-establishment movements. Here's a look at Europe's major right-wing parties and where they stand:

  • US and Russia scramble to save Syria truce 

    The latest round of UN-backed Syria peace talks ended in deadlock last month after the opposition walked out of negotiations in Geneva in frustration over the lack of humanitarian accessWashington and Moscow scrambled to salvage Syria's shaky ceasefire on Tuesday as the country reeled from jihadist bombings that killed more than 160 people in President Bashar al-Assad's coastal heartland. A regime offensive outside the capital has severely strained an already fragile nationwide ceasefire between the regime and non-jihadist rebels intended to pave the way for peace talks to end the five-year conflict. The latest attempts to salvage the truce come after at least 161 people were killed in car bombings and suicide attacks on Monday in the northwestern cities of Jableh and Tartus that were claimed by the Islamic State group.

  • Israel resumes cement shipments for private Gaza reconstruction after 45-day break 

    Mladenov, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, speaks to the media after a meeting with Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani in NajafBy Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) - Israel on Monday resumed deliveries to the Gaza Strip of cement for home reconstruction by private individuals, ending a 45-day-old ban it imposed after it accused the Palestinian enclave's Hamas rulers of seizing some of the stock. Hamas has denied Israeli charges that it siphons off cement imports to help build and fortify attack tunnels. Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, welcomed the resumption of the shipments, saying in a statement that "all sides need to ensure that cement deliveries reach their intended beneficiaries and are used solely for civilian purposes." The Israeli ban had not affected cement deliveries for housing projects overseen by international aid groups and foreign governments.

  • In Iran, dividends of nuclear deal are slow to appear 

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference in IslamabadBy Samia Nakhoul and Richard Mably TEHRAN (Reuters) - Hopes that Iran would quickly reintegrate with world markets after its nuclear deal, bringing investment and opportunities to a young population, are turning to frustration. An opaque business environment in Iran and political uncertainty in the United States are to blame. Tehran’s hotels are buzzing with businessmen keen for a slice of a big new emerging market, more industrially developed than most oil and gas-rich nations but isolated since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that turned Iran into a pariah state for most of the West and many of its Middle Eastern neighbors.

  • Singapore kicks out Swiss bank linked to Malaysia's 1MDB 

    Singapore's central bank has ordered the closure of the local branch of Swiss bank BSI, which has been linked to a scandal at Malaysia's troubled state fund 1MDBSingapore's central bank on Tuesday said it was kicking out Switzerland's BSI Bank, which has been linked to a global money-laundering scandal that has embroiled neighbouring Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak. In the toughest legal action so far in the crisis rocking Malaysian state fund 1MDB, Switzerland also disclosed it had launched criminal proceedings against the parent firm BSI SA for "deficiencies" in its internal organisation. “BSI Bank is the worst case of control lapses and gross misconduct that we have seen in the Singapore financial sector," Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said in a statement.

  • Oil riches help keep alive bedouin poetry 

    With his Nabati poem, Rajih al-Hamidani was crowned 2016 champion of "Million's Poet", staged in Abu Dhabi for a 7th yearThe Middle East's poetry equivalent of "Pop Idol" is helping to keep alive an age-old tradition using bedouin dialect, which is barely understood outside the Arabian Gulf. Apart from the glory, a Kuwaiti student took home five million dirhams ($1.36 million), the top prize in a television show followed by millions of poetry lovers across the region. With his Nabati poem, Rajih al-Hamidani was crowned 2016 champion of "Million's Poet", staged in oil-rich Abu Dhabi for a seventh year.

  • IS blasts in Syria regime heartland kill more than 148 

    A car in flames at the scene of bombings in the Syrian city of Tartus, northwest of Damascus, on May 23, 2016More than 148 people were killed in bombings claimed by the Islamic State group in northwestern Syria, the deadliest attacks to date in the regime's coastal heartland. Seven near-simultaneous explosions targeted bus stations, hospitals and other civilian sites in the seaside cities of Jableh and Tartus, which until now had been relatively insulated from Syria's five-year war. The attacks on strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad's regime came as IS faces mounting pressure in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, where a major offensive to retake the jihadist-held city of Fallujah is underway.



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