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Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  24.10-28.10.05, No. 86  
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Foreign Policy

President leaves for visit to DPRK
2005-10-28 Xinhuanet
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese President Hu Jintao left here Friday morning for an official goodwill visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Hu pays the visit at the invitation of Kim Jong-il, general secretary of the central committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK. Hu's entourage included Alternate Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Wang Gang, Head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee Wang Jiarui,Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Director of the Policy Research Office of the CPC Central Committee Wang Huning, Deputy Head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee Liu Hongcai, Vice Commerce Minister Liao Xiaoqi, and Director of President's Office Chen Shiju.

Hu: China a 'good neighbour' of ASEAN
2005-10-27 China Daily
China is a "good neighbour, friend and partner" of ASEAN, President Hu Jintao told visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday. "We are ready to enhance communication and co-ordination with ASEAN members, in an effort to push forward the construction of the China-ASEAN free trade area and East Asia regional co-operation," he said. Lee was in Beijing on his first China trip since he took office last year. Hu also said China attaches importance to the first East Asia Summit, respects the consensus reached by ASEAN members and supports ASEAN's leading role in the summit. The inaugural East Asia Summit will be held in Malaysia in December, when ASEAN members will meet China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Hu spoke highly of the growth of China-Singapore relations. Some 15 years after China and Singapore forged diplomatic ties, Hu said, bilateral relations still see healthy and fast growth thanks to efforts made by both sides. The Chinese economy is compatible with the Singaporean economy, so the mutually beneficial co-operation complies with the fundamental interests of the two countries, Hu said. Lee said the enhancement of bilateral co-operation is in the interest of the two countries and conducive to regional stability and development.

Hu plans November European state visits
2005-10-26 China Daily
President Hu Jintao is to visit Britain, Germany and Spain early next month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced yesterday, another positive signal for Sino-EU relations. Following his European tour, Hu will also visit the Republic of Korea (ROK), and stay in the country to attend the APEC forum in Busan from November 18-19. "President Hu will pay a state visit to the four countries from November 8 to 17," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said in a regular briefing yesterday. During the first leg of his tour in Britain, Hu will meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair, Kong said. And in Germany from November 11 to 13, he will hold talks with President Horst Koehler, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and the incoming chancellor Angela Merkel. During the two-day visit in Spain, Hu will meet King Juan Carlos, among others. Hu's trip comes after last month's agreement on ending an impasse that left millions of Chinese-made garments stuck in European Union ports. Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and his counterpart, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson inked a deal increasing quotas, which both sides described as a "win-win" result. ()

Chinese premier leaves for SCO meeting in Moscow
2005-10-26 / 27 People's Daily
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao left Beijing Wednesday morning to attend the Fourth Meeting of Prime Ministers of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Moscow from Oct. 26 to 27. Wen pays the visit at the invitation of Mikhail Fradkov, prime minister of the Russian Federation government. Wen's entourage includes Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Civil Affairs Li Xueju, Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, Vice-Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei, Director of the Premier's Office Qiu Xiaoxiong, and Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that China is full of confidence in future cooperation among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). "The goals set by the organization will surely be realized as long as member states work together and endeavor to implement (agreements)," Wen told a press conference at the conclusion of the fourth conference of the Council of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) prime ministers. He described the gathering as a full success. Wen said the SCO, whose tenets are maintaining world peace, enhancing regional stability and development, is an open organization not targeting any third parties but willing to have close relations with other international organizations. He urged member countries to strengthen coordination, increase input and take concrete measures to implement economic cooperation agreements. Wen said that China would train 1,500 technical personnel from SCO members and that the project would need a total of 75 million yuan (about 9.3 million US dollars). China also announced 900 million dollars in preferential export buyer's credit. ()

China, US to increase nuclear co-operation
2005-10-26 China Daily
A senior US official yesterday expressed repeated commitment to transferring nuclear reactor technologies to China. China has drafted ambitious plans to use nuclear power to alleviate growing energy shortages. Administrator of the US National Nuclear Security Administration, Linton Brooks, told China Daily: "There is no reason why the (reactor) technology should not be transferred to a country like China." Industry insiders said the commitment from Brooks, who is also undersecretary of the US Department of Energy, is expected to boost US nuclear power company Westinghouse's attempts to win a US$8-billion contract to build four nuclear reactors at Sanmen in Zhejiang Province and Guangdong Province's Yangjiang. So far, the Chinese Government has been busy reviewing bid application from the US company, France's Areva and Russia's AtomStroyExport. Several high-level US officials have expressed interest in loosening controls over exports of nuclear reactor technologies to China. The controls have rendered Westinghouse unable to participate in China's nuclear reactor construction, despite the company having had a presence here for years. ()

China, Denmark to push forward military ties
2005-10-25 People's Daily
Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan said in Beijing Monday that China will promote the sound and stable development of military relations with Denmark. In a meeting with Hans Jesper Helsoe, Joint Chief of Defence of Denmark, Cao said that since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 55 years ago, bilateral relations have witnessed smooth progress, and the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries have kept expanding in all areas. The frequent high-level mutual visits from both sides have given impetus to the development of bilateral ties, he said. Cao, also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and state councilor, pointed out the military relationship between China and Denmark has also experienced new progress in recent years, adding that China is willing to join hands with Denmark in seeking a long-term development of military ties. Helsoe said China has made great economic, social and scientific progress over the past years. He congratulated China on its successful launch and recovery of a manned spacecraft this month, saying the success demonstrated China's achievement in astronautical technology. Ge Zhenfeng, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, also attended the meeting.

Parties concerned urged to get ready for new round of six-party talks
2005-10-28 People's Daily
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan Thursday urged all parties concerned to make preparations for the coming fifth round of six-party talks. The pressing matter of the moment is to implement all principles and agreements stated in the common document reached at the fourth round of six-party talks and move forward on the course set by the previous round of talks so as to make new achievements at the new round of talks, Kong said at a regular press conference. All parties exchanged views on various issues of common concern at the fourth-round of six-party talks, which concluded on Sept. 19 in Beijing. Kong said that a specific date for the coming round of talks has not to be decided by all parties concerned. China, which holds the chairmanship, is discussing with parties concerned for fixing the definite date. Kong expressed the hope that all parties concerned would stick to their commitment as agreed in the common document, namely, making joint efforts to bring about enduring peace and stability in northeast Asia. Parties "directly concerned" will sit by the bargaining table to discuss the establishment of a mechanism for permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. Referring to the visit of Li Bin, Chinese envoy in charge of Korean Peninsula affairs, to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), the spokesman said that Li had visited the DPRK, and held talks with Christopher Hill, head of the US delegation to the six-party talks, during his visit to the United States. He will visit ROK soon.

China to ratify UN corruption convention
2005-10-24 China Daily
China's top legislature is expected to ratify an international anti-corruption convention this week, making it harder for crooked officials to escape abroad with their ill-gotten gains. The United Nations Convention against Corruption, signed by the Chinese Government two years ago, is consistent with China's laws and its fight against corruption, said Premier Wen Jiabao in a bill tabled to the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC). Law-makers started a six-day session on Saturday to deliberate on a series of daft laws as well as ratification of the UN convention. The ratification will improve cross-border co-operation, easing the repatriation of corrupt officials who flee abroad and the recovery of assets taken out of China, said Wen. The convention, signed by a total of 30 countries, will take effect on December 14, this year. Covering five categories, the convention includes directions on preventing corruption and pursuing convictions for crimes such as bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering, as well as guidelines for international co-operation. Signatories are bound to provide assistance in the recovery of assets taken out of the country by corrupt officials, said Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.

Vatican urged to translate words into action
2005-10-28 China Daily
Beijing yesterday again expressed willingness to improve relations with the Vatican, but insisted the Holy See consider Taiwan as part of China and not interfere in the country's internal affairs. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan made the remarks at a regular news briefing in response to a reported statement by the Vatican's top diplomat that it was ready to end relations with Taiwan. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the secretary of state, was quoted as saying on Tuesday that the Holy See was ready for dialogue and contacts with Beijing. Kong said China has noted the statement from the Vatican and hopes the words can be translated into action. He reiterated Beijing's two preconditions to normalize relations. First, the Vatican must sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognize the island as an inseparable part of China. Second, the Vatican must not interfere in China's internal affairs, including religion. Kong said all Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief, but religious groups must conduct themselves in accordance with laws and regulations. China has had no diplomatic ties with the Vatican the only European country that has official relations with Taiwan since 1951. Just hours after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named Pope Benedict XVI in April, China expressed the wish to improve bilateral ties, hoping that the Vatican would create favourable conditions to normalize relations under the new leadership. Kong criticized Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for his recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine a symbol of Japanese militarism. He said Koizumi's repeated visits to the shrine, where 14 class-A war criminals are honoured, hurt the feelings and dignity of the peoples who, and countries which, were victims of Japanese aggression during World War II. Koizumi's acts have set up obstacles to the development of Sino-Japanese relations, he said.

 

Domestic Policy

Mainland reports two new H5N1 outbreaks
2005-10-26 SCMP
Two new outbreaks of bird flu were disclosed on the mainland yesterday, bringing the deadly virus closer to Hong Kong, as health officials continued to call for vigilance in the face of a possible pandemic. Outbreaks of H5N1 were reported in Anhui province - marking the first appearance of the disease in eastern China this year - and in Hunan , which borders Guangdong. The Health, Welfare and Food Bureau said last night the Ministry of Agriculture had advised it of an outbreak among ducks and chickens in a village in Hunan. Almost 700 birds were infected, of which 545 had died, and 2,487 birds had been culled. The village was not identified. No live poultry is imported to Hong Kong from Hunan. Earlier, the World Organisation for Animal Health, quoting a ministry report, said at least 2,100 farmed geese had been infected and 550 birds had died in Liangying village near Tianchang city . A report by Xinhua identified the strain as H5N1 and said the outbreak was "under effective control". Tianchang is on the border with Jiangsu province , north of Nanjing and about 250km from Shanghai. Live imports of Anhui poultry to Hong Kong have been banned since July last year. ()

Hunan girl's death 'not linked to bird flu outbreak'
2005-10-28 China Daily
Health authorities yesterday refused to link the death of a 12-year-old girl who had flu-like symptoms with the bird-flu outbreak in Central China's Hunan Province. Initial tests turned out negative for the virus, but the result has to be confirmed, some media reports said yesterday. The report of the girl's death came the same day that three people on a French island off Africa were being tested for suspected bird flu - the first suspected human cases outside Asia. A health official with Xiangtan County - the third place in China to report an outbreak caused by the H5N1 strain in a week - said He Yin's death on October 17 could be a "coincidence." The girl and her 9-year-old brother He Junyao, natives of Wantang Village, fell ill after the family ate a chicken that died of an unspecified disease earlier this month. "The province sent experts to investigate," the official told China Daily. "But the results of laboratory tests didn't show the girl died of bird-flu infection." Without disclosing what exactly caused the girl's death, the official - who did not want to be identified - said his department dealt with the incident "according to procedures" and the situation in the county is "well under control." No other person has been reported ill in the village. Both the health and foreign ministries said yesterday that no human infection has been reported in China so far. "The Chinese Government has already taken ... decisive measures to prevent bird flu and to share information with the international community," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a regular news briefing yesterday. ()

Guangdong ready for worst but set on prevention
2005-10-27 SCMP
Guangdong is preparing for the worst-case scenario of a human influenza pandemic, with plans to requisition schools and build tented hospitals - even as mainland authorities claim to have controlled bird-flu outbreaks among poultry in three provinces. "Zhong Nanshan says there is no human-to-human transmission at the moment but he doesn't rule that out. He thinks we should focus on preventive measures," a Guangdong government source said, quoting the Guangzhou doctor who is leading the province's battle against bird flu. The province would isolate any patients with bird flu, he added. The government was looking to Dr Zhong to come up with a cure for bird flu and to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine to develop herbal medicine that everybody could take to prevent infection, he said. "But once you get it there is no cure. If that happens, we will requisition schools and build tent hospitals, as in Xiaotangshan [a temporary hospital built in Beijing to treat Sars patients] ... We are preparing for the worst," the source said. The World Health Organisation's country head in Beijing, Henk Bekedam, said it was "very important that Guangdong is [making preparations] ... but it doesn't mean that [the human pandemic] will happen. ()

Tamiflu stocks 'not enough' for China
2005-10-25 SCMP
Swiss drug manufacturer Roche yesterday said it would not be able to meet demand on the mainland for Tamiflu should a bird flu pandemic erupt, but voiced willingness to work with the central government to boost production. The offer came as a new outbreak of bird flu was reported in Russia. Roche's office in Shanghai said it had provided the central government with full and updated information about Tamiflu, the drug considered a first line of defence against a potential pandemic. "Because of the high demand and long manufacturing lead times for Tamiflu, Roche has made clear it is highly unlikely to fulfil large Tamiflu orders at short notice," a spokesman said. "This is why we have been encouraging governments over the past three years to stockpile in advance." It is not clear how much Tamiflu Beijing has stockpiled, but on Saturday Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu said it was "not practicable" for China to stockpile Tamiflu for its 1.3 billion population. He cited its expensive price and a lack of scientific proof about its effectiveness in fighting a pandemic once the virus has mutated. The most effective safeguard was to cut off the spread of the virus, he told a meeting of medical executives in Kunming . Roche said it was willing to allow other companies in China or the government to produce the drug. "We are willing to expand the existing collaborations to include any government or other company who is able to contribute to the manufacturing or who can seriously manufacture Tamiflu for emergency pandemic use, in view of the increasing urgency of the situation," the spokesman said. Roche has previously said it was aiming to raise global output of Tamiflu eight- to tenfold over 2003 levels within 18 months on its own. ()

Pollution pushes 400,000 a year into an early grave
2005-10-26 SCMP
More than 400,000 mainlanders die prematurely each year from air pollution, according to an unpublished study by the research arm of the government's environmental protection agency. The study, conducted by the Chinese Academy on Environmental Planning in 2003, found that 300,000 people died from outdoor pollution and that 111,000 people died from indoor pollution each year, said Wang Jinnan, a chief engineer at the academy who is also chairman of the Chinese Society for Environmental Economics. "It's a conservative figure. The real figure could be higher," Mr Wang said on the sidelines of an international air pollution conference.

Thirteen on trial for human smuggling
2005-10-27 China Daily
GUANGZHOU: Thirteen people, including an airline employee are currently on trial for human smuggling in the capital of South China's Guangdong Province. Sources at the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court said yesterday that the alleged human smugglers known as "snakeheads" are accused of helping 200 Chinese emigrate illegally to European countries last year. The three-day trial ends today and the "principal defendants could face serious punishment if they are found guilty," Li Zhongyuan, a spokesman for the court, told China Daily. It is not known when a ruling is expected. Sources at the court also indicate that a number of immigration officials involved in the case but not charged are on the run. However, Lin Chuanfeng and Zeng Weixing, the two principal suspects, denied the charges. The court quoted Lin Chuanfeng as saying that the real mastermind behind the case is Lin Chuangan, who is at large. Meanwhile, Zeng told the court that he was not involved at all. Lin Chuangan is alleged to have provided fake passports for Chinese from other regions. Lin Chuanfeng and Zeng Weixing were allegedly responsible for organizing accommodation overseas, securing visas and buying air tickets. All three main suspects are from East China's Fujian Province; and it is estimated that each of them made 1,000-3,000 yuan (US$123-369) for every illegal emigrant they helped.

12 killed in school stampede in China's Sichuan
2005-10-27 People's Daily
Cries of "ghost" spooked 12 students to their death in a primary school stampede on Tuesday in China's Sichuan Province. The tragedy occurred in Tongjiang County in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, about 600 kilometres from the capital Chengdu. At about 8 pm, when around 480 fourth- and fifth-graders were about to leave their three-storey school building in Guangna Town after evening classes, there was a blackout and some students shouted "ghost." The children panicked and rushed to the staircase where some fell, only to be trampled upon by the fleeing crowd. Seven died on the spot; and five later in hospital. Of the 27 injured, seven were reported to be in a serious condition. Mei Zhi, a 36-year-old woman, was in shock and could not accept that her 12-year-old son Ye Ye had died. "He was so cute and diligent," she wailed. After having dinner at home, the son returned to school to study but what happened later "was really a nightmare," she said. A teacher in the school, who did not want to be identified, denied earlier media reports that the students were killed when the dilapidated building collapsed. "The building is new and completed only in May," he said.

 

Economy

Income-tax threshold raised to 1,600 yuan
2005-10-28 Xinhuanet
China's top legislators adopted Thursday, October 27, a revised Personal Income Tax Law, raising the threshold for monthly personal income tax from 800 yuan (about US$100) to 1,600 yuan (US$198), a move that will help ease tax burdens on wage earners and create a more equitable society. The amendment will become effective next year. The Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) also approved the amendments to the Securities Law and the Company Law. "It will ease the burden on low- and middle-income people, mainly wage-earners such as migrant workers and employees at enterprises," Han Baojiang, economics professor of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China, said in an interview with China Daily on Sunday, October 23. The central authorities have started to use taxation as a tool to achieve the goal of building a "harmonious society," said Han. This is only the first step, he said, more measures will follow, such as the adoption of an inheritance tax. The new threshold was raised from 1,500 yuan (US$185) in a previous draft of the law revision after the country's top legislature held the first-ever public hearing in Beijing last month. A total of 20 representatives from all walks of life voiced their views and gave their proposals; with most agreeing that the cut-off point should be raised. The move was widely hailed as a good example of heeding public opinion while formulating legislation. Top lawmakers, while deliberating and adopting the income tax law amendment, accepted their proposals, setting the deduction level at 1,600 yuan. In 1994, China began levying income tax on citizens earning more than 800 yuan (about US$100) but only 1 per cent of people were earning more than that; now, about 60 per cent earn that much. () The State coffers may lose 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) a year with the implementation of the new policy, Shi Yaobin, head of the Taxation Department of the Ministry of Finance, said earlier.

240 corruption cases uncovered in banks
2005-10-24 China Daily
China uncovered 240 cases of corruption in its state-owned commercial banks in the first half of the year, with losses totalling 1.6 billion yuan (198 million dollars), state media said. The Xinhua news agency, citing a State Banking Regulatory Commission official, said the money stolen from commercial banks from January to June amounted to about half of the country's total sum lost to bank embezzlement. About 25 percent of the cases involved more than 1 million yuan (123,500 dollars) each, Xinhua said. Shen Xiaoming, deputy director of the commission's supervision department, attributed the large number of scandals to bank reforms and improved government efforts to crack down on financial crimes. The past year has seen an increase in the number of arrests and trials on corruption charges of bank officials, from branch managers to the vice chairman of the state-run Bank of China in Hong Kong. But the report revealed that graft remains a serious problem in China, even as the government pushes forward with reforms in hopes of getting the top banks listed overseas and improving overall management of the system. China has 189 banks and more than 30,000 credit cooperatives with total assets amounting to 30 trillion yuan (3.7 trillion dollars). The big four state-owned commercial banks --the China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China -- have a combined market share of 55 percent. In an interview published by Economic Information Daily Saturday, Shen said China would soon strip governors of state-run commercial banks of their power to approve loans, in a bid to prevent corruption. ()

 

Mongolia

Prairie fire in Mongolia under control
2005-10-26 Xinhuanet
The prairie conflagration from Mongolia had been put out by 4:00 p.m. Wednesday except for sporadic fires beyond the isolation belt on the Sino-Mongolian boundary in Arxan city, northern China's Inner Mongolia, according to the fire control office of the Hinggan League. The league government had dispatched more than 800 fire fighters and forest policemen to fight the fire round-the-clock at the boundary. According to government sources from the League, satellite photos taken on Monday morning showed that the prairie fire in Mongolia was nearly 100 km long, or the whole length of China's boundary in Hinggan League, and was only three km from the border at the nearest spot. Earlier reports said on Monday and Tuesday morning that the prairie fire once crossed the Sino-Mongolian boundary into Chinese territory, part of it being extinguished.

 

North Korea

Death of aide could quicken changes
2005-10-24 SCMP
One of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's closest confidants died at the weekend, with analysts saying his death could herald changes in the Stalinist regime's internal power structure. Yon Hyong-muk died on Saturday at the age of 73 of an "incurable disease", Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said. Yon, a Czech-educated technocrat, had served as vice-chairman of the Stalinist state's powerful National Defence Commission, led by Mr Kim since 2003. "Though having no major impact on the North's external policy, it may bring a change to the North's internal power structure," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University in Seoul. "As close aides to Kim Jong-il are dying of disease and age or in accidents, a generation change by young North Korean elites to the leadership could come earlier than expected." The agency did not name the disease from which Yon, also a former prime minister, suffered. Seoul's Yonhap news service said he had surgery in Russia last year for pancreatic cancer. The central news agency said a state funeral would be held for him. "The death of comrade Yon Hyong-muk, who has upheld great achievements of our party with his burning loyalty and high abilities, is a big loss to our party and people," the National Defence Commission said. Yon had been regarded as one of Mr Kim's closest aides, accompanying the reclusive supremo to key public events, including the 2000 inter-Korean peace summit, according to North Korea watchers. He had long been involved in the North's defence industry as heavy industry minister, and in the development of Pyongyang's foreign policy as a communist party secretary. Born in November 1931, he also served as chief negotiator to high-level talks with South Korea in the early 1990s to work out the South-North Basic Agreement, a major step forward to rapprochement on the divided peninsula. His death was the latest high-profile change in the internationally-isolated regime and shows the vulnerability of the ageing leadership. Kim Yong-sun, North Korea's then ruling party secretary in charge of inter-Korean relations, died in a traffic accident in October 2003 at the age of 69. Song Ho-kyong - then vice-chairman of North Korea's Asia- Pacific Peace Committee, who brokered the 2000 inter-Korean summit - died aged 63 of chronic disease in September last year. Vice-Marshal Jo Myong-rok, 75, the North's most powerful military figure after Kim Jong-il, had gone to China to get treatment for a worsening kidney problem up until last year, according to Yonhap. He has served as first vice-chairman of the national defence commission, which controls the country's 1.1 million-strong armed forces.

 

Julie Kong
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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