France Could Engage Syria in “Spectacular Way,” If…

France is prepared to open up in a "spectacular way" to Syria if it stops meddling in Lebanon, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.

Kouchner stated he hoped Damascus would "not create obstacles to Lebanon's sovereignty" when it holds presidential elections next month. "If Syria does not create obstacles to Lebanon's sovereignty … then France will open up to Damascus in a spectacular way," Kouchner told Le Parisien newspaper.

"But for this to happen, we would need guarantees," he added.

The Lebanese parliament is expected to elect a new president between September 24 and November 24.

Cousseran Ends Beirut Mission, No Progress, Naharnet

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who visited Iraq this month, said he told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that al-Maliki has "got to be replaced." Al-Maliki said the Iraqi government would demand an apology.

Syrian-Saudi Tension over Lebanon, Naharnet.

"Syria Attacks Saudi Arabia to Reaffirm Its Control of Lebanon," writes Huda al Husseini, a prominent Lebanese writer, in al-Sharq al-Awsat.

BEIRUT —  Around 100 people led by a Sunni cleric rallied outside the Saudi embassy in Beirut Sunday to voice support for ambassador Abdel Aziz Khoja who left the country in the face of death threats.

Waving Lebanese and Saudi flags, the demonstrators carried placards hailing the role of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a key financier of Lebanon and a staunch supporter of the beleaguered Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

"We came to express our support for the policy of Saudi Arabia, and condemn those who have dared to hit out against the kingdom," said rally organizer Sheikh Hisham Khalifeh, head of a Sunni clerical organization.

The demonstration came after the ambassador revealed in an interview with the Saudi-owned daily Asharq Al Awsat that he had left the country August 17 after being threatened with death.

"There were threats against the Saudi embassy and against my person," he told the London-based paper.

A member of Saudi Arabia's advisory Shura Council pointed the finger at Syria, claiming that proxies of Damascus in Lebanon could be behind the alleged threats.

"Syria is not blameless with regard to these threats. Syria's agents in Lebanon … could be behind these threats," Mohammad Al Zulfa said.

Khoja had been involved in efforts to broker an end to the rift with pro-Syrian factions that has paralyzed Siniora's legislative agenda.

Early last week, he held talks with the pro-Syrian speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, who has refused to recognise the Siniora government's legitimacy since six pro-Syrian ministers quit last November.

UK wants to engage with Iran, says Brown's Mideast envoy 

Syria elects municipal councilors, UPI, Aug. 26, 2007

Syrians went to the polls Sunday to elect nearly 10,000 municipal councilors across the country.

The two days of voting, to end Monday afternoon, capped low-key campaigning between independent candidates and candidates from the National Progressive Front, or NPF, the ruling coalition, reported Alalam Satellite TV.

NPF candidates won 172 of the 250 seats in Parliament in an April election. Independents won the remaining 78 seats.

The NPF is headed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, 41, the son of the late President Hafez al-Assad.

Al-Assad was re-elected president in May for a second seven-year term in a referendum that saw him take more than 97 percent of the vote

Comments (31)


1. ausamaa said:

Veryyyyyy nice! And very “spectacular” statement by Mr. Kouchner.

I am sure syria will read this as: “Please help us! We and the Bush team know that we can not get things going our way – in Lebanon even- without your interference. Forget the Stick we kept waving at you for the past few years; we have a basketfull of carrots that we promise to offer you but help us save face at least”.

And very diplomatically the Syrian spokesman will “reiterate” Syria’s “unwavering” position that the Lebanese should of course solve their problem without outside interference; Syrian or otherwise. The Syrian spoksman may also add: “For us, things look very spectacular as they are right now, so spectacular in fact, that you know what to do with that basket of French carrots you are now promissing us”

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August 27th, 2007, 4:35 pm

 

2. ausamaa said:

As to Syrian-Saudi relations, what gives? Does Saudi think it can acheive what the Bush team could achieve during the past five years? Why are they going nuts? And do they really expect that they can achieve anything by attacking Syria with all their “might”? Are we missing something? Are they maybe trying to save face after failing to deliver what they might have promissed “someone” that Saudi diplomacy and “deep Knolwedge” of the area can achieve if that “some one” went along with certain Saudi tactics?

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August 27th, 2007, 4:47 pm

 

3. ausamaa said:

As to Syrian-Saudi relations, what gives? Does Saudi think it can acheive what the Bush team could not achieve during the past five years? Why are they going nuts? And do they really expect that they can achieve anything by attacking Syria with all their “might”? Are we missing something? Are they maybe trying to save face after failing to deliver what they might have promissed “someone” that Saudi diplomacy and “deep Knolwedge” of the area can achieve if that “some one” went along with certain Saudi tactics?

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August 27th, 2007, 5:33 pm

 

4. t_desco said:

Al-Hayat: When he was shot, Abu Hureira was actually on his way to a meeting with Nabil Rahim, who is identified in the article as a member of al-Qa’ida. The cell that targeted the Tanzanian UNIFIL was directly linked to Abu Hureira. It was also responsible for other bombings. Two members of the cell were students of Beirut Arab University, so there is a possible link to al-Houri mosque (but I have to stress that this is just my speculation).

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August 27th, 2007, 6:15 pm

 

5. mo said:

ausama,
i have to disagree with ur analysis. i do not think that the frensh are beging syria to help them in lebanon, on the countrary it is telling them that the presidential election is a chance for syria to get back into the international community…and i personnaly think its the last chance…
and as for the relations with Saudi, well my friend you must be nuts if you think for one second taht syria could survive without saudi suport both politicaly and economicaly…and bashar’s regime chose to break relations with saudi and throw him self in the arms of Iran, tell me , what good could come from doing such a thing. During his years President Hafez played the iran card in order to preasure the arabs…but at the end of the day he always use to side with the arabs, and thats what kept his regime going for 30 years…thank god bashar didnt do the same because syria can not aford to live under any assad regime anymore…ausama, maybe if you go out of ur ofice in the syrian embasy in DC and actualy go to syria and see the people and how low the standerd of living is getting…you wouldnt be talking like one of bashar’s puppets but insted you would say the truth and whats best for the syrian people

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August 27th, 2007, 7:48 pm

 

6. Observer said:

France could not protect its ally Saddam from the US invasion. Kouchner with Sarkozy as his boss will not be able to offer Syria anything that the Syrian regime cannot get by itself now. The “spectacular” should be :1. Veto power at the UNSC; 2. Full military parity with Israel; 3. Economic and political gains to equal or exceed those that it has with its alliance with Iran; HA; and its allies in the Lebanon and the region. If Kouchner can deliver then we can talk about “spectacular” offers; otherwise, he and his “Napoleon” boss are delusional. Kouchner has to remember that Israel will make sure to torpedo any stability initiative and that the US will ride roughshod over any French sphere of influence.

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August 27th, 2007, 8:09 pm

 

7. ausamaa said:

Mo…
yah, maybe.. I am now tempted to reconsider my thoughts after the obvious points and facts you highlited above! Thank you for the kind insight you provided.

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August 27th, 2007, 8:36 pm

 

8. why-discuss said:

MO

During his years President Hafez played the iran card in order to preasure the arabs…but at the end of the day he always use to side with the arabs, and thats what kept his regime going for 30 years…

And this is why Syria remained backward despite the “generous” contribution of the Saudis to the economy of Syria. Please tell me what economical help Syria got from Saudis except allowing syrians to work as slaves in their country, or some mosque and palaces they built in Syria for their summer retreat ??? Except for prince Talal, the Saudis have done nothing tangible to improve the Syrian economy, is it because they consider the alawite as heretics????
The Iranians are investing in car factories, gaz pipeline, rehabilitation of the Shia holy places that are attracting huge amounts of iranians pilgrims all years long, who behave better that the sex-craved Saudis… Come on, Iran alliance is the chance for Syria to get out of their economical crisis that will worsen when oil will be depleted in 10 years. It is also, with the Defense Treaty they signed with Iran, a warrant that Israel will not dare to attack. Would the Saudis move if Syria is attacked? No, they are paralyzed and their boss the US will not allow it. Who will help Syria if Israel attacks? I believe Syria knows best where lie its interest ans security, this is why they are not afraid to provoke the Saudis who are used to have all arab countries bowing in front of their money. Maybe now the Saudis will be obliged to compete with the Iranians to win the heart and minds of the Syrians. Very good move from Syria!

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August 27th, 2007, 11:20 pm

 

9. norman said:

We forget that the Saudis make the Nightclub tours and sleep with the poor Iraqi girls that they helped displace , you are so ungratfull to these brothers.

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August 28th, 2007, 1:37 am

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

What a lovely triangle of stagnation and backwardness.

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August 28th, 2007, 2:21 am

 

11. why-discuss said:

Akbar

And Israel the best example of ruthless colonialism and apartheid claiming to be the champions of enlightment, progress and humanism.

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August 28th, 2007, 4:09 am

 

12. Akbar Palace said:

Why-Discuss whines –

And Israel the best example of ruthless colonialism and apartheid claiming to be the champions of enlightment, progress and humanism.

Israel is an independent nation like Syria. It is not a colony of any other nation. Maybe you were referring to Lebanon, because if there was any “colony” in the Middle East, Lebanon would be it. Lebanon could very well be considered a colony of Iran and Syria.

Ask Professor Josh.

In terms of ruthlessness, also please refer to Syria, Baathist Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran, and the terrorists they support. They’ve killed orders of magnitude more people than Israel could ever hope for.

And lastly, I keep hearing about Israel being an “apartheid” state. (just like the term “colonial”). I know these accusations are part of the arab educational and religious system, but if Israel were an “apartheid state” she would not have equal rights for Arab citizens nor whould she have Arab representation in government.

Today’s News:

Another Qassam lands on an Israeli house. Try to find that on BBC’s Middle East website.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3442823,00.html

PS – I hope my posts don’t deter your nice, pro-terror website. I wouldn’t want to disturb your pro-terror and anti-Israel comfort zone here.

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August 28th, 2007, 10:59 am

 

13. Atassi said:

“”We forget that the Saudis make the Nightclub tours and sleep with the poor Iraqi girls that they helped displace””
Misleading statement, and possibly a total BS.

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August 28th, 2007, 1:05 pm

 

14. why-discuss said:

Colonialism is when you settle in somebody else’s land by force. What about the hundred of illegal colonies (you call them ‘settlers’) everywhere in occupied Palestine, protected by barbed wire and soldiers? Even Jimmy Carter used the word “apartheid” in the title of his new book, it is not in the arab propaganda. Big deal, Israel has an arab representation in the governement just for the facade of “democracy”, tell me how this representative have infuenced the release of more than 10,000 palestinians in israeli’s jails as hostages that Israel is conveniently using as exchange money when they want the show their magnanimity or obtain the release of one of their captured soldiers.
The ruthlessness of Israel is nothing to compare with the episodic Syrian eliminition of the Moslem Brotherhood insurgents 30 years ago (considered at that time as terrorists)! And please don’t use Saddam’s Hossein horrors as a criterium of reference! I hope Israel does not want to compete with that monster!
The Israeli occupation is killing people everyday for the last 60 years and it is not showing any sign of stopping.
Because of their arrogance to accept the palestinians as equal partners in building a multireligion federation, Israel lives in a permanent state of anxiety, despite their claim of economical growth. Is that a life Israel wants for their children?

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August 28th, 2007, 1:16 pm

 

15. norman said:

Atasi, this is for you

Iraqi women turn prostitutes in Syria
balbhadra | May 30 2007

During the war we lost everything.We even lost our honor.

says Umm Hiba , an Iraqi women in Damuscus and daughter of a teenage daughter who dances at nightclubs and is a prostitute. It is the story of many such Iraqi women who were forced to flee to neighbouring Syria after the men in their family were either killed or kidnapped. Bereft of jobs and armed militia knocking at their doors, they had no other option. In Syria the question of sheer survival drove them to the somewhat lucrative and the oldest profession of the world.

These women find work at casinos or openingly solicit clients on the steets. A favourite is the Maraba part of the road from Damuscus to the famous convent at Saidnaya.

Syria though committed to help, seems overwhelmed by the Iraqi exodus. According to the United Nations commissioner for refugees they number 1.2 million. Syria just does not have the necessary infrastructure to deal with such numbers.

Cheaply available Iraqi prostitutes have made the flesh trade here a big business luring Arabs from neighbouring countries. Most visitors are from Saudi Arabia, just a six hour drive through Jordan.

Image credit

New York Times

Tags: Syria casinos, syria
Related Stories

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August 28th, 2007, 1:24 pm

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

Colonialism is when you settle in somebody else’s land by force.

Why-Discuss –

This is clearly NOT the definition of “colonialism”. Never was, never is, and never will be.

BTW – The Holy Palestinians are speaking with the infidels.

I guess the Holy Warriors are left with no excuse except that of anti-semitism.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3442931,00.html

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August 28th, 2007, 2:01 pm

 

17. Atassi said:

It has nothing to do with KSA or Saudis. it’s has to do with people involved in the act in general

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August 28th, 2007, 4:05 pm

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

Colonialism: Example 1

Nasrallah’s allegence is not to Lebanon. Care to take a guess?

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3439057,00.html

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August 28th, 2007, 4:10 pm

 

19. norman said:

Atasi, please do not ignore the facts , just axcept them and try to make them beter , Is’nt the Saudis who gave bases for the US to bombard Iraq for 13 years then invade it ,

Cheaply available Iraqi prostitutes have made the flesh trade here a big business luring Arabs from neighbouring countries. Most visitors are from Saudi Arabia, just a six hour drive through Jordan.

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August 28th, 2007, 4:17 pm

 

20. norman said:

——————————————————————————–

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-saudi-newspaper-ban,0,3807345.story

Saudi Government Bans Leading Arab Paper
By SALAH NASRAWI
Associated Press Writer

6:48 AM PDT, August 28, 2007

CAIRO, Egypt — Saudi Arabia has banned the influential Arab newspaper Al Hayat from distribution in the kingdom, just days after it reported a Saudi man had served as a key figure for an al-Qaida front group in Iraq, journalists and diplomats said Tuesday.

One of the country’s most influential journalists said the ban was a sharp retreat from growing press freedoms in Saudi Arabia.

Al Hayat’s Saudi edition did not appear on newsstands Monday and Tuesday, several Arab diplomats told The Associated Press in telephone calls from Riyadh, the Saudi capital. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

Saudi information officials had no immediate comment. Al Hayat officials in London, the newspaper’s headquarters, also had no comment.

But a Saudi journalist with knowledge of the situation said the Ministry of Information and Culture had imposed the ban after the paper published an article Monday about the Saudi man, Mohammad al-Thibaiti, thought to be a key figure in the Iraqi extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq.

“They (authorities) confiscated the copies before going to stands, and imposed an indefinite ban on the paper,” said the journalist, who is a member of the Saudi Press Association. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprimand.

A private distribution firm in the kingdom, the National Company of Distribution, also confirmed the ban.

One of Saudi Arabia’s most influential journalists, Dawood al-Shirian, who is a former regional director at Al Hayat and still writes a weekly column, said he believed there was a different reason for the ban.

Al-Shirian, who now is deputy head of Al-Arabiya TV, said Al Hayat staff had told him that Saudi Information Minister Iyad Madani had asked that some writers be stopped from appearing in the newspaper, but that the paper had refused to comply.

Madani previously had been considered something of a reformer.

“The minister believes that those writers are critical of ministers and not of their performance — that they are being personal in their criticism,” al-Shirian said.

Al-Shirian criticized the ban, saying that by taking such action, “the minister has wrecked an image about the rising limits of freedom in the Saudi media that has been established in the past two years. … This will harm the minister and the ministry, and not Al Hayat.”

Al-Shirian said the policy may not have reflected the Saudi king’s policy, and vowed that Al Hayat would not bend.

“If the ban lasts for a long time, he may fall,” al-Shirian said of the minister. “But the paper will not close.”

In Monday’s article, which is still on the newspaper’s Web site, Al Hayat disclosed details about al-Thibaiti, also known as Abu Sulaiman al-Otaibi, the Saudi man inside Iraq — including his alleged close links to leading Saudi Wahhabi clerics.

Wahhabism is the strict version of Sunni Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.

The newspaper also disclosed that al-Thibaiti had studied at Imam Mohammad bin Saud University, which is widely believed to be a stronghold for radical Islamic Saudis.

On Sunday, the self-declared Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group in Iraq, said in a posting on an extremist Web site that its leader had replaced al-Otaibi, who had been serving as the group’s “justice minister.”

The replacement, Abu Ishaq al-Jubouri, is an Iraqi. The extremist group’s Web statement said the replacement was made for “legitimate interests.”

In the article, Al Hayat also quoted the Saudi interior minister, Prince Naif, as saying that some Saudis are traveling to Iraq to carry out suicide attacks.

“Those who survive come back to spread their deviant ideas,” Prince Naif was quoted as saying. Iraqi officials have long contended that Saudis are coming to Iraq to fight with extremists against the Shiite-led government.

Al Hayat is owned by Prince Khaled bin Sultan, the son of the Saudi crown prince and defense minister, Prince Sultan. Prince Khaled is himself a Saudi deputy defense minister and one of the most influential members of the royal family.

The London-based newspaper has several different editions. Its Saudi edition is believed to have the second-largest circulation of any newspaper in the kingdom.

Saudi papers are government-guided, with red lines usually drawn around sensitive topics. But it was not clear if the article had been vetted by any official before being printed.

Al Hayat has been warned several times for publishing materials that the ministry has called unacceptable. In 2002, Al-Shirian, then the paper’s regional director, said it had faced outright government censorship in one dispute with government officials.

* __

Associated Press Writer Donna Abu-Nasr contributed to this report.

——————————————————————————–

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August 28th, 2007, 5:56 pm

 

21. Atassi said:

What facts?
The act of prostitution is done by the needy and disparate Iraqi women, the victims are Iraqis women.. but the clubs owners and the “ARSSAT” are local !! I would leave it to you to figure out the party financially benefiting the most from the misery and suffering of the Iraqi women?…
Syria was also a partner and benefited Big time in the first Gulf war !!

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August 28th, 2007, 6:29 pm

 

22. norman said:

Atasi,
Without the demand and the money that the Saudis bring there will be no such activety , you and i will not go to these places no matter how available they are , KSA will be better off building shelters and schools to help with the Iraqi refugees , that is only my poin ,people who benifit from the misery of others are doomed in this world or the next.

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August 28th, 2007, 7:08 pm

 

23. why-discuss said:

Norman, at least the iranians pilgrims in Damascus don’t visit such places…

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August 28th, 2007, 7:29 pm

 

24. why-discuss said:

Akbar ref Nasrallah’s interviews.
If it was censored, how is its content made available to your Israeli propaganda tabloid? Why would the Iranian TV censor it….come on, try harder…

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August 28th, 2007, 7:34 pm

 

25. Kamal said:

The Ynet story posted by Akbar is based, without attribution, on a report by the Saudi outlet Elaph.

http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/Politics/2007/8/256184.htm

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August 28th, 2007, 7:59 pm

 

26. ausamaa said:

Don’t we have more important things other than inflaming Syrian-Saudi relations and getting into too “personal” areas. Both have excahanged “niceties” and both are now assessing the gains and losses of such exchanges. We know that Syria is Syria, and that Saudi is Saudi, each have their own interests and sometimes those interests may conflict, especially when the “friendly forces” get into the act, but in the end, convergence is the strategic destiny of Syrian and Saudi policies. I am not against exposing and rebuffing what I consider as excessive anti-Syrian approaches by anyone, but at the same time, I believe Saudi and Syria remain Arab countries with commomn future, common interests and common enemies. Bandar and Dubbya, will fade away sooner or later anyway. And things will get better long before then. Saudi knocked on Syria’s door twice in the last year, and Syria has responded with the proper answer. But this is in no way the end of the common road.

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August 28th, 2007, 8:16 pm

 

27. why-discuss said:

Ausama

Ultimately Syria and KSA will join again, but KSA has to show some initiative and independence from the US umbrella, in one direction or the other. We know what are the goals of Syria: freeing the Golan and developing their economy within the neighborhood. What are KSA foreign policy and goals??? it is not very clear. They seem trapped within the US spider web of fear of the neighbours. I believe that same dependance (call it paralysie) is creating antagonism within the idealistic Saudi youth. They are filling the ranks of terrorism everywhere. KSA must open their eyes and decide about what goals they should have other than becoming richer and more consumerist, otherwise they may face more internal problems.

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August 28th, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

28. Alex said:

No Ausamaa, there is a fundamental problem there … the whole middle east is paying for the competition between Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Saudi Arabia will need to re-evaluate everything. It should adopt the strategic vision outlined by prince Turki al-faisal this year… Syria is a country that should have “prominence” in its neighborhood … Syria is not a playground… Saudi Arabia’s place is in its own neighborhood… the gulf states and Yemen.

Prince Bandar is not the only one who has to put aside his personal ego… there are others in Saudi Arabia.

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August 28th, 2007, 11:43 pm

 
 

30. norman said:

Ausama,
The problem between Syria and KSA is that batween the two only Syria looks for the Arab interest,

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August 29th, 2007, 12:48 am

 

31. norman said:

Which is right
Germany to give Syria €4 million to help it cope with Iraqi refugees

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August 29th, 2007, 12:59 am

 

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