29/01/2016 World News Today


29/01/2016

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This is BBC World News Today with me, Tim Willcox.

:00:00.:00:00.

A potential breakthrough at the Syrian peace

:00:07.:00:09.

A representative of President Assad is at the UN organised talks

:00:10.:00:15.

in Geneva - and in the last few moments a main Syrian opposition

:00:16.:00:18.

group - which had earlier refused to attend -

:00:19.:00:20.

A mother who took her son to Syria becomes the first British woman

:00:21.:00:26.

to be convicted of joining so-called Islamic State.

:00:27.:00:28.

She denied ever encouraging terrorism.

:00:29.:00:39.

It was never my intention to enter into Syria.

:00:40.:00:42.

Economic growth slows sharply in the United States as consumers

:00:43.:00:44.

And we'll be covering all the angles on the revelation that

:00:45.:00:49.

Ancient Babylonians were the first to use geometry 1400 years

:00:50.:00:52.

We start with what appears to be a potential breakthrough

:00:53.:01:18.

at the first Syria peace talks for two years.

:01:19.:01:20.

A main opposition group, the HNC, which had refused to attend now says

:01:21.:01:23.

The "Higher Negotiation Committee" says it has now received assurances

:01:24.:01:29.

Representatives of President Assad's regime have arrived.

:01:30.:01:35.

The group, led by Syria's ambassador to the United Nations,

:01:36.:01:40.

Bashar al Jaafari is now meeting UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

:01:41.:01:43.

The aim is to bring peace to a country where at least

:01:44.:01:46.

a quarter of a million people have been killed,

:01:47.:01:48.

and more than 11 million forced from their homes.

:01:49.:01:51.

Here's our diplomatic correspondent James Robbins.

:01:52.:02:02.

Making peace is always most difficult when no side in a war

:02:03.:02:05.

Despite all the bombing, even more intense since Russia

:02:06.:02:09.

started massive aerial attacks in support of

:02:10.:02:10.

President Assad last September, the battles for Syrian territory ebb

:02:11.:02:13.

and flow with no one scoring a knockout

:02:14.:02:15.

Recently, Syrian government forces have claimed significant

:02:16.:02:17.

advances including in the province of Latakia.

:02:18.:02:21.

But the large number of different forces preached against them,

:02:22.:02:24.

both rebel forces backed by Western and some Arab powers,

:02:25.:02:26.

as well as the outlawed extremists including so-called Islamic State,

:02:27.:02:29.

make the search for negotiated peace even harder.

:02:30.:02:37.

So, who will be at the Geneva peace talks?

:02:38.:02:39.

Well, the Syrian government has promised to send a team,

:02:40.:02:41.

although it still brands or opposition rebels as terrorists.

:02:42.:02:47.

The opposition side and its international backers

:02:48.:02:49.

Who will appear for them and when exactly?

:02:50.:02:55.

There has been much opposition talk of boycotting

:02:56.:02:57.

Deep disagreements involving Turkey that

:02:58.:03:03.

insists that Kurdish representatives be excluded from the talks,

:03:04.:03:05.

and Saudi Arabia, which wants only its

:03:06.:03:07.

nominated list of organisations recognised, as well as Russian

:03:08.:03:09.

and Syrian government demands, mean that

:03:10.:03:11.

face-to-face talks remain a distant prospect.

:03:12.:03:16.

Finding a way to move to a ceasefire, political settlement

:03:17.:03:20.

and eventual peace looks even harder than in previous peace talks

:03:21.:03:22.

Presumably good news that the HNC are attending. What is the latest?

:03:23.:03:46.

Basically there were expectations that they would take part in

:03:47.:03:51.

negotiations but they were trying to pressure for some guarantees and

:03:52.:03:55.

apparently they got those guarantees. From the US and the UN.

:03:56.:04:00.

They just announced they are taking part, we still don't know who the

:04:01.:04:06.

delegation represented are. We do have a negotiation team. We still

:04:07.:04:11.

don't know when they are arriving, when they are going to meet with the

:04:12.:04:16.

UN special envoy but it is a good start for an already speculated

:04:17.:04:24.

failed negotiations. Yes, Staffan de Mistura is hoping to speak to them

:04:25.:04:29.

on Sunday. There are other glaring omissions, aren't there? Where are

:04:30.:04:35.

the Kurdish groups, for example? There are Kurds in the high

:04:36.:04:47.

negotiating committee. But some the Turks consider a terrorist group and

:04:48.:04:51.

made it clear they should not take part. They were not included in this

:04:52.:04:57.

negotiation. However, the special envoy considered many members of the

:04:58.:05:01.

opposition as consultants since they were not represented in the Riyadh

:05:02.:05:09.

meetings last month. Staffan de Mistura knows it will be the most

:05:10.:05:13.

difficult task but he has put a time frame of six months on this. Hasn't

:05:14.:05:20.

he? Yes, he made it clear this will be proximity talks. They won't be

:05:21.:05:26.

face to face, inside the same room between opposition and government.

:05:27.:05:30.

He said it will take a long time. Six months is the announcement, it

:05:31.:05:34.

may be more than that given the difficulty these talks are facing.

:05:35.:05:39.

But it is one step on 1000 mile road ahead. Thank you very much.

:05:40.:05:44.

A young mother has become the first British woman to be convicted

:05:45.:05:47.

of travelling to Syria to join the Islamic state group.

:05:48.:05:49.

26 year old Tareena Shakil, a former health worker,

:05:50.:05:51.

ran away with her toddler in October 2014.

:05:52.:05:53.

She was arrested when she returned to the UK four months later.

:05:54.:05:56.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court also found her guilty of encouraging

:05:57.:05:59.

Our correspondent Sian Lloyd reports.

:06:00.:06:05.

Tareena Shakil, a British mother convicted today of being a member

:06:06.:06:12.

of so-called Islamic state, the banned terror group.

:06:13.:06:14.

Notorious for its violence and brutality.

:06:15.:06:16.

She took her toddler son to Raqqa in Syria.

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The court was shown in this picture, her child playing next to a gun.

:06:25.:06:28.

She dressed him in IS clothing and wore

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She urged others to join her in Syria,

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The court has been really clear, they found her guilty

:06:36.:06:40.

IS are really a dangerous organisation and at the moment

:06:41.:06:46.

she should be treated as a dangerous individual.

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Tareena Shakil was arrested the moment she arrived

:06:49.:06:50.

When interviewed, she lied, telling police she was kidnapped

:06:51.:06:55.

by a man she met on holiday in Turkey.

:06:56.:07:01.

It was never my intention to go into Syria.

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Whilst being on holiday, I happened to meet a young

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I liked him and we developed somewhat of a relationship.

:07:10.:07:18.

This image shows the former health worker at East

:07:19.:07:24.

The journey was planned not as a holiday but a route

:07:25.:07:33.

During the summer of 2014, Tareena Shakil

:07:34.:07:36.

became increasingly interested in extremist material,

:07:37.:07:38.

But she went further and began encouraging others

:07:39.:07:43.

on social media to get involved in terrorism.

:07:44.:07:49.

Tareena Shakil told the court she went to Syria only to live

:07:50.:07:54.

under the rule of sharia law, she denies joining IS.

:07:55.:07:57.

She said she had made a mistake and wanted to come

:07:58.:08:00.

home, describing her escape in a taxi and the dash she made

:08:01.:08:03.

for the Turkish border carrying her son and

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I threw 9000 Syrian dollars at him, which is $15,

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wrapped my Pampers, everything, this bag, grabbed the blanket

:08:15.:08:18.

The jury was unanimous in finding Tareena Shakil

:08:19.:08:29.

Fresh data on the health of the US economy is out,

:08:30.:08:45.

Growth is slowing down - and in the 4th quarter of 2015

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was at just 0.7%, compared with the same period a year before.

:08:50.:08:52.

That's a sharp drop from the 2% growth recorded

:08:53.:08:54.

Tanya Beckett is with me to explain what's going on.

:08:55.:09:02.

A slowdown in the sale of durables. Durable goods, this is one of my

:09:03.:09:12.

favourites. You are right, it's a good indicator of what is going on.

:09:13.:09:16.

Sometimes you have to look behind the headlines. Durable goods are

:09:17.:09:22.

purchases of goods which are durable, as the name suggests. It is

:09:23.:09:27.

a sign of investment. It is an indication there is a lack of

:09:28.:09:30.

confidence in the economy but you have to remember there is now a

:09:31.:09:35.

sharp dip in investment in the mining and oil industry in the US

:09:36.:09:39.

because the break even price for oil producers is very much higher in the

:09:40.:09:45.

US and Saudi Arabia producers. Interest rates raised marginally.

:09:46.:09:53.

They don't have the option of putting them back down because it

:09:54.:09:56.

destroys credibility. What you can do is delay the next rise. It has

:09:57.:10:03.

been pushed out the little bits to June. The problem they had as the

:10:04.:10:08.

bank to plan, the European Central Bank are both moving in the opposite

:10:09.:10:18.

direction. Dutch Mac bank of Japan. Big companies are being charged to

:10:19.:10:24.

actually leave their money? Yes, a very peculiar situation. The Bank of

:10:25.:10:28.

England is showing no signs at all. That divergences raters questions in

:10:29.:10:36.

investors mind. -- raises. Is there anything positive? Yes, there may be

:10:37.:10:43.

bounced back in the second quarter of this year so it is not all doom

:10:44.:10:48.

and gloom. There are a variety of sciences uncertainties at the

:10:49.:10:54.

moment. One is the Chinese economy, particularly the stock market and

:10:55.:10:58.

how that is indicative of a bumpy transition to domestic consumption

:10:59.:11:03.

led economy. The price of oil, there doesn't seem to be any prediction

:11:04.:11:11.

that that will rebound. Where it represents a sharp fall in

:11:12.:11:14.

investment, that is where it is taking a hit so there are some

:11:15.:11:18.

fallout, even countries which are not oil-producing countries. You

:11:19.:11:27.

mention tank of Japan, -- bank of Japan. The reason the bank of Japan

:11:28.:11:36.

is doing this, is that the rate of reform simply isn't fast enough. It

:11:37.:11:44.

is a economy based on particularly large companies. This has been the

:11:45.:11:51.

case for a long time that Japan, of course, suffering from exactly the

:11:52.:11:55.

same problem that we might find ourselves suffering from, which is

:11:56.:12:00.

they are doing pushing on a piece of string. Lowering interest rates as

:12:01.:12:05.

much as you like that demand is not stimulated. Thank you.

:12:06.:12:07.

Chinese state TV has reported that all four surviving miners trapped

:12:08.:12:10.

after the 25th December mine collapse in Shandong

:12:11.:12:12.

The men had spent 36 days trapped underground.

:12:13.:12:18.

The gypsum mine in eastern China's Shandong province collapsed

:12:19.:12:20.

on Christmas Day, killing one and leaving 17 missing,

:12:21.:12:22.

In the days that followed, rescuers detected the four 200

:12:23.:12:28.

The International Olympic Committee says venues for the Rio Olympics

:12:29.:12:38.

will be inspected daily in the lead-up to the Games

:12:39.:12:40.

to minimise the risk of athletes and visitors contracting

:12:41.:12:42.

It says any puddles of stagnant water, where mosquitos can breed,

:12:43.:12:46.

The mosquito-borne disease has been linked to a surge in brain defects

:12:47.:12:51.

among new-born babies in the Americas, where it's been

:12:52.:12:53.

Little is know about Zika, but it was first discovered

:12:54.:12:57.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga has been there, and sent this report.

:12:58.:13:09.

This is the Zika forest, a quiet, sleepy, much forgotten place.

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70 years ago, the monkeys here were found to harbour the virus

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causing today's international health concern.

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As with so many discoveries, the scientists working in nearly 70

:13:27.:13:29.

years ago were not actually looking for the Zika virus.

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They were doing research on yellow fever and that's when they came

:13:32.:13:35.

across the new micro-organism which they named after this forest.

:13:36.:13:45.

He says there have only been two confirmed cases of

:13:46.:13:48.

I asked him why it is proving so dangerous in other parts

:13:49.:13:55.

One of the reasons is because the virus has moved

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into new territory, and in this territory it's attacking people

:14:00.:14:01.

who have never been affected by viruses which are similar

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In which case, their bodies are not adapted, or they don't

:14:05.:14:17.

have the immunity they would have if they had been affected.

:14:18.:14:21.

These mosquitoes are similar to those

:14:22.:14:22.

But scientists here say mosquitoes in Uganda are not good

:14:23.:14:32.

Nevertheless, they are on the lookout, especially

:14:33.:14:35.

as transmission spreads around the world.

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We have a surveillance system which is continuous,

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and it is doing the work of trying to find out which type of mosquitoes

:14:43.:14:46.

We have indigenous type, the forest type or we have also

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other types which have come into the country.

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This is the only laboratory in Uganda that tests

:15:00.:15:02.

Blood samples are brought here from across the country.

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They are tested, labelled and stored.

:15:08.:15:09.

Outbreaks of the disease are not that common.

:15:10.:15:11.

The last confirmed case for several years ago.

:15:12.:15:18.

Another challenge for the scientists here is the fact that people don't

:15:19.:15:20.

often report symptoms of the Zika virus.

:15:21.:15:26.

They are either not aware of it, or they assume it's malaria,

:15:27.:15:29.

so a new initiative is going to start in April of this year

:15:30.:15:32.

to try and make better sense of how widespread the disease

:15:33.:15:35.

Officials in Saudi Arabia say at least two people have been killed

:15:36.:15:52.

in a gun attack during Friday prayers in a Shia mosque.

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This footage - that we can't verify - shows the moment of the attack

:15:55.:15:58.

The attack in the eastern town of Mehasin has also left

:15:59.:16:02.

One witness has said that worshippers stopped the attacker

:16:03.:16:08.

A suicide bomber has attacked a market in northeastern Nigeria.

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Police say at least three people were confirmed dead in the town

:16:14.:16:17.

of Gombi in Adamawa state - a resident said he saw

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Eye-witnesses say the bomber was disguised as a woman.

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Government troops recaptured Gombi from Boko Haram in 2014

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but the insurgents have since made several attempts to retake the town.

:16:29.:16:32.

Police in south-west Germany say a grenade has been thrown

:16:33.:16:34.

The device didn't explode and was found by a security guard

:16:35.:16:50.

near buildings which house 170 people.

:16:51.:16:52.

Last year there were more than one thousand attacks,

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five times the number reported the previous year.

:16:56.:16:57.

Anti-mafia police in Italy say they've captured two

:16:58.:16:59.

of the country's most wanted fugitives at a mountain hideout

:17:00.:17:01.

The two men Giuseppe Ferraro and Giuseppe Crea are high-level

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members of a crime group that controls much of

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They'd been on the run for more than a decade,

:17:08.:17:10.

and had been linked with a string of murders.

:17:11.:17:13.

Let's take you back to Ancient Babylon now.

:17:14.:17:15.

What is now Syria and Iraq, to the year 1800 BC,

:17:16.:17:20.

and what appears to be a far more sophisticated civilisation

:17:21.:17:23.

A new study has been published showing that they were using

:17:24.:17:27.

geometric calculations to track Jupiter across the night sky.

:17:28.:17:33.

It's a surprising revelation as it means, that branch of sophisticated

:17:34.:17:35.

mathematics was being used 1400 years earlier than previously

:17:36.:17:38.

Well I am joined by it's author via skype -

:17:39.:17:48.

Professor Mathieu Ossendrivjer, from the Humboldt University of

:17:49.:17:50.

This was a bit of a surprise discovery for you, wasn't it?

:17:51.:17:54.

Well, last year I received a new tablet which contained numbers and

:17:55.:18:05.

calculations that reminded me of a bunch of strange thing that deals

:18:06.:18:13.

with figures, and that is quite unusual in Babylonian astronomy. I

:18:14.:18:16.

was able to figure out what was happening with all these weird

:18:17.:18:20.

genetical tablets we're looking at one of these now will stop it looks

:18:21.:18:25.

like a piece of plastic bread. How on earth do you read that? You spent

:18:26.:18:32.

your in Tyre career doing that so it's not easy to explain the can you

:18:33.:18:37.

have a go? Yes. It's writing and its well understood is. There are a list

:18:38.:18:45.

of signs are able to decipher. The language is not a problem that the

:18:46.:18:48.

astronomy on it, that's what I'm really interested in. There are

:18:49.:18:57.

trapezoid is there, aren't there? That's a piece of John retreat. How

:18:58.:19:01.

did they use that to track velocity in movement, of Jupiter, wasn't it?

:19:02.:19:09.

So it turns out that this is like a modern graft. It shows you how the

:19:10.:19:13.

velocity of Jupiter changes over time. On the vertical axis, its

:19:14.:19:20.

velocity. So the velocity decreases with time. It unexpected with

:19:21.:19:26.

antiquity. We don't have it anywhere else there. We were savages compared

:19:27.:19:32.

to this lot, weren't we? Yes will stop we could say that, yes. This

:19:33.:19:39.

kind of raft was only reinvented much later in Europe. 14th century

:19:40.:19:45.

in Oxford. Sorry, Oxford. You didn't invent it for the first time. It was

:19:46.:19:51.

the Babylonians. Debate came -- come up with it from their own research,

:19:52.:19:58.

or do you think they got wind of the Babylonian tablets Rhys I think it

:19:59.:20:04.

was forgotten and invented for the second time. Can you tell us about

:20:05.:20:09.

Babylonian culture? What is now Syria and Iraq in 18th century BC,

:20:10.:20:17.

it's an extraordinary city, even though it's been badly rebuilt by

:20:18.:20:21.

Saddam Hussein. The culture was extremely sophisticated, wasn't it?

:20:22.:20:26.

. Extraordinary. They had highly developed mathematics and John

:20:27.:20:30.

retreat, though what we were doing much later in the fourth century was

:20:31.:20:36.

to reapply the dormitory in a totally new way. What did they use

:20:37.:20:40.

it for? Was it linked to their fascination of the planets, or was

:20:41.:20:45.

this... Did they understand the importance of the planets, and the

:20:46.:20:49.

earth, and the sun. What was needed for the production of food? They

:20:50.:20:56.

were obsessed with the planets computing emotion and it was because

:20:57.:21:02.

of astrology. They thought that by predicting the position of the

:21:03.:21:07.

planets they could predict market prices, river levels, the weather.

:21:08.:21:09.

They thought everything was connected to what happened in the

:21:10.:21:15.

sky. There's an element of truth in that of course. Yes, but it's a kind

:21:16.:21:23.

of astrology, but on these tablets you don't see anything of astrology.

:21:24.:21:30.

It's very technical. Astrology, we learned about from other tablets.

:21:31.:21:33.

What a fascinating breakthrough. Thank you for speaking to us. Thank

:21:34.:21:44.

you for having me. British astronaut Tim Peak has asked

:21:45.:21:48.

school children in Britain to help him in one of his

:21:49.:21:50.

scientific experiments. He wants pupils to plant seeds

:21:51.:21:53.

of rocket leaves that have been Their growth will be compared

:21:54.:21:55.

with normal plants to help researchers develop new varieties

:21:56.:21:59.

of crops that could be grown This report by our science

:22:00.:22:01.

correspondent, Pallab Ghosh. Ever since Tim Peake blasted off,

:22:02.:22:06.

his adventures in space Now, from the space station,

:22:07.:22:11.

he is doing it again. We are going to get a packet

:22:12.:22:17.

of these space seeds. When Tim Peake comes back down

:22:18.:22:20.

to earth, we're going to do some He is asking schoolchildren

:22:21.:22:24.

to help him with one I am looking after two

:22:25.:22:29.

kilograms of very special space seeds, which is

:22:30.:22:34.

ready for our special Now these seeds have been

:22:35.:22:36.

on the International Space Station, I will be packing them up

:22:37.:22:41.

at the end of their mission, When they arrive, they will be

:22:42.:22:44.

sent out to thousands of schools to grow alongside

:22:45.:22:49.

the seeds that have not been up here in space,

:22:50.:22:52.

as part of our special Once they plant the rocket seeds,

:22:53.:22:54.

instead of the stem going up, the stem will go down and the roots

:22:55.:23:03.

will come up instead. I have watched virtually every

:23:04.:23:06.

broadcast he has done and I'm really I think it is incredible

:23:07.:23:13.

that all our schools all over the country will be

:23:14.:23:19.

involved in something so important The pupils at Walton

:23:20.:23:22.

High School in Stafford are among children from 10,000

:23:23.:23:26.

schools expected to help him The experiment by pupils

:23:27.:23:29.

here could ultimately help scientists develop a crop that

:23:30.:23:33.

astronauts could grow In the future, it could enable

:23:34.:23:37.

people to grow their own crops Eating on the space station has

:23:38.:23:42.

never been straightforward. But their freeze-dried

:23:43.:23:50.

food could soon It is really cool

:23:51.:23:51.

seeing the Union Jack It has explored all over the world

:23:52.:23:57.

and now it has explored space. Tim's space walk made British

:23:58.:24:05.

schoolchildren realise one day it Even if they don't make it

:24:06.:24:07.

into space, his mission might inspire them to reach

:24:08.:24:11.

for the stars in their own way. Lets show you some pictures from

:24:12.:24:31.

Australia. This is from the sea bed off the coast of Sydney 's. Octopus

:24:32.:24:41.

are normally solitary creature, but you can see them fighting here which

:24:42.:24:46.

means they could possibly have more social interactions than first

:24:47.:24:49.

thought. This one showing a darker colour. The losing one. French film

:24:50.:25:03.

director Jacques Rivette one of the most influential figures in US

:25:04.:25:09.

cinema has died. He was 87. He received a critical acclaim for his

:25:10.:25:20.

challenging and imaginative films, including selenium Julie go boating

:25:21.:25:26.

and out one which lasted about 13 hours. The French president Francois

:25:27.:25:30.

Hollande called him one of the greatest film-makers over several

:25:31.:25:34.

generations. A reminder of our main news. A attentional breakthrough at

:25:35.:25:39.

the first Syria peace talks for two years. The main opposition group

:25:40.:25:43.

behind negotiation committee which had refused to attend now says it

:25:44.:25:48.

will take part. The agency says it's received assurances from the United

:25:49.:25:56.

Nations. We hope to speak to them on Sunday. That's it from me and the

:25:57.:25:59.

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