Туреччина та Іран розкритикували планований на вересень референдум в Іракському Курдистані

Туреччина та Іран висловили рішучий спротив щодо референдуму про незалежність в Іракському Курдистані, запланованого на вересень. Про це йшлося під час візиту до Анкари 16 серпня начальника штабу армії Ірану.

«Обидві сторони підкреслили, що якщо буде проведено референдум, це стане основою для початку серії напружень та конфліктів всередині Іраку, наслідки яких позначаться на сусідніх країнах», – цитує іранського генерала Мохаммада Хоссейна Багері інформаційне агентство Ірану IRNA.

Багері після переговорів з президентом Туреччини Реджепом Тайїпом Ердоганом пізно ввечері 16 серпня також заявив, що сторони погодилися – референдум щодо незалежності автономного курдського регіону Іраку може викликати заворушення у всьому регіоні.

Переговори Ердогана і Багері тривали близько години, йшлося під час їх проведення і про ситуацію в сусідній Сирії. Турецькі ЗМІ заявили, що це був перший такий візит іранського військового посадовця до Туреччини після Ісламської революції 1979 року в Ірані.

На початку червня президент Іракського Курдистану Масуд Барзані і лідери всіх політичних партій у регіоні домовилися провести референдум про незалежність від решти Іраку і призначили його на 25 вересня. Таку ініціативу засудили в Багдаді, а також в ООН.

Майже 5-мільйонний Іракський Курдистан і нині має значну автономію, зокрема власний парламент і збройні сили. Напруженість у відносинах з центральним урядом у Багдаді викликана, серед іншого, обміном доходами від нафти. Курди контролюють нафтове місто Кіркук.

 

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Трамп обговорить із радниками безпекову стратегію для Афганістану

Президент США Дональд Трамп зустрінеться 18 серпня зі своїми радниками з національної безпеки у президентській резиденції в Кемп-Дейвіді, щоб обговорити стратегію США в Афганістані та Південній Азії, повідомили у Білому домі.

Як пишуть американські ЗМІ, в адміністрації Трампа немає спільної позиції з приводу того, що робити Вашингтону, чиї сили не виграли найдовшу війну в історії США, тоді як Пентагон рекомендує відправити туди додаткові сили.

Командувачі США в Афганістані кажуть, що конфлікт зайшов у «глухий куі». Незважаючи на багаторічну підтримку з боку США і НАТО, афганські сили безпеки намагаються стримати не тільки рух «Талібан», а й все більшу присутність екстремістів угруповання «Ісламська держава» в країні.

Таліби у відкритому листі цього тижня закликали Трампа вивести війська США, заявивши, що їхня присутність в країні продовжує війну і перешкоджає примиренню.

Сполучені Штати мають 8,4 тисячі військовослужбовців в Афганістані, з яких близько 5000 – військові НАТО.

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Ірак просить ООН допомогти з розслідуванням злочинів угруповання «Ісламська держава» проти людства

Ірак звернувся до Організації Об’єднаних Націй з проханням надати допомогу в зборі доказів можливих «злочинів проти людяності», скоєних екстремістським угрупованням «Ісламська держава».

У листі від 16 серпня міністра закордонних справ Іраку Ібрагіма аль-Джаафарі йдеться, що урядові сили, які недавно звільнили Мосул з-під контролю ісламістів, виявили докази злочинів, зокрема масові вбивства, сексуальне рабство та руйнування археологічних цінностей.

Джаафарі попросив Британію надати допомогу в розробці резолюції для розгляду Радою безпеки ООН щодо проведення міжнародної розслідування. Заступник посла Великобританії Джонатан Аллен підтвердив ці зусилля. Посол Росії в ООН Василь Небензя теж заявив, що Москва підтримує резолюцію.

Британська юрист з прав людини Амаль Клуні, яка виступала на захист іракських релігійних меншин, високо оцінила цей крок влади Іраку.

«Єзиди та інші жертви «Ісламської держави» хочуть справедливості в суді, і вони не заслуговують меншого. Я сподіваюся, що лист уряду Іраку стане початком припинення безкарності за геноцид та інші злочини, вчинені ісламістами в Іраку і у всьому світі», – сказала Амаль Клуні.

10 липня прем’єр-міністр Іраку Хайдер аль-Абаді оголосив про перемогу у Мосулі над джихадистами і звільнення міста від бойовиків угруповання «Ісламська держава», яке 3 роки утримувало місто, оголосивши його столицею «халіфату» в Іраку.

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Pakistan Railway Revival Clashes With Shanty Towns

After many false starts, plans to resurrect a railway in Pakistan’s teeming metropolis of Karachi are moving ahead with the help of Chinese cash. Not everyone is happy.

The Chinese-funded $2 billion project to revive Karachi Circular Railways (KRC), nearly two decades since it was shut down, has been touted as a way to ease pollution and chronic congestion in the port city of 20 million people.

It is also viewed with suspicion by Pakistanis who have built homes and businesses along the 43-km route connecting Karachi’s sprawling suburbs with the industrial and commercial areas of the megacity.

In April, a push to remove shanty towns near the rubbish-strewn railway track was met with violence as residents clashed with police and set fire to machinery used for demolishing homes.

Officials say nearly 5,000 houses and 7,650 other encroaching structures have been erected along the route of the old KRC, which closed in 1999 after 29 years of shunting passengers across the sweltering city.

Three-wheel auto-rickshaws and mini-buses, often cramped and with no air conditioning, have filled the transport gap on Karachi’s streets despite grumbling from commuters.

Work on the new KRC is scheduled to begin later this year, with financing from the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, part of Beijing’s wider Belt and Road initiative to build trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa. Beijing’s cash is building motorways and power plants to alleviate Pakistan’s energy shortages, but Karachiites hope it could also modernize their city at a time when traffic appears to be spiraling out of control.

“Let’s hope under CPEC, KCR is revived and people will get an alternate to miserably public transport,” said Manzoor Ahmed Razi, chairman of the Railway Workers Union.

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Petrobras Argentina Sale Under Scrutiny in Brazil

Brazilian prosecutors plan to investigate last year’s controversial sale of the Argentine subsidiary of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, a lawyer representing some Petrobras shareholders said on Wednesday.

Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA , sold its 67.2 percent stake in Petrobras Argentina SA for $892 million to Pampa Energia SA, Argentina’s largest power company.

The sale has already drawn scrutiny from Brazil’s Congress and a federal audit court, and lawyer Felipe Caldeira said prosecutors were now looking into it as part of Brazil’s sweeping “Car Wash” anti-corruption investigation.

Caldeira, representing a group of minority Petrobras shareholders, told Reuters he spoke on Tuesday to prosecutors on a task force in Curitiba leading the Car Wash probe and gave them information on the sale.

“They are very interested and will investigate this,” said Caldeira, who filed a civil case in a Rio de Janeiro court in May alleging that the sale fetched a below-market price and was harmful to the interests of minority shareholders.

Federal prosecutors in Curitiba said the task force had not met with Caldeira but said that any relevant information about the case would be studied.

Petrobras bought the Argentine unit from energy conglomerate Perez Companc in 2002 for $1 billion, plus $2 billion in debt.

The sale 14 years later for much less sparked controversy in Brazil and led lawmakers to call on Petrobras and Pampa executives, and lawyer Caldeira, to testify before a committee hearing on Wednesday.

The controversy has grown since, Aldemir Bendine, chief executive officer of Petrobras at the time of the sale, was jailed last month on suspicion he received bribes from construction conglomerate Odebrecht in a political graft scandal that has led to the arrest of dozens of executives and politicians.

Pampa’s executive vice president and legal director Diego Salaverri told the committee the sale was transparent and competitive and his company made the best offer that was a “fair” price in a depressed market.

Oil prices had dropped drastically from $100 to $30 and a climate of uncertainty prevailed in Argentina, which had currency controls and a ban on remittances, he said.

Petrobras’ legal manager for acquisitions and divestment, Claudia Zacour, told the committee the sale of Petrobras Argentina was part of the Brazilian oil company’s divestment plan to reduce debt and focus on core activities.

The net positive result for Petrobras of owning and selling the Argentine unit was $1.6 billion when taking into account intercompany loans, the sale of some of its assets and the distribution of dividends, Zacour said.

Brazil’s federal audit court has said it was investigating the sale of Petrobras Argentina at the request of a senator but has not concluded its findings.

In response to Caldeira’s lawsuit, a federal judge in Rio de Janeiro sent Argentine authorities a request that the chairman of Pampa Energia, Marcos Marcelo Mindlin, testify in the case.

With a majority stake, Pampa SA, Mindlin’s holding company, continued its takeover of Petrobras Argentina in November by acquiring 11.85 percent held by the Argentine state pension system ANSES.

The transaction is being investigated by Argentine judge Claudio Bonadio, who ordered the search and seizure of documents from government offices in May in a case brought by center-left lawmaker Victoria Donda.

“The fund’s shares were sold very cheap, and we want to know why, because thousands of pensioners lost money,” Donda told Reuters in Brasilia, where she traveled to attend Wednesday’s hearing.

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As Rural Sri Lanka Dries Out, Young Farmers Look for Job Options

Scorched by a 10-month drought that has killed crops and reduced residents to buying trucked-in water, Adigama’s young people are voting with their feet.

At least 150 youth have left this agricultural village 170 kilometers northwest of Sri Lanka’s capital since the drought began, looking for jobs in the country’s cities, or overseas, village officials say.

Few are expected to come back, even when the rains end.

“If they get the lowest-paying job overseas, or in a garment factory, they will not return,” Sisira Kumara, the main government administrative officer in the village of 416 families, said as he walked through a dried and long-abandoned maize plot. “They will work at construction sites or as office helpers — anything they can get their hands on.”

W.M. Suranga, 23, who left his family’s withering rice paddy six months ago for Colombo, said working for low wages in the city is preferable to struggling with no rain at home.

“At least I am sure of a paycheck at the end of the month. This uncertainly of depending on the rains is too much of a risk,” he said.

As Sri Lanka struggles with its worst drought in 40 years, farmers in the hardest-hit areas are migrating for work — with some wondering whether farming remains a viable career as climate change brings more frequent extreme weather.

“There is no income here. All the crops have failed in the last four seasons,” Kumara said.

Little to harvest for a year

Paddy rice and vegetables are usually the main source of income in Adigama. But since the last big rains in July 2016, there has been little to no harvest.

Older villagers like Rajakaruna Amaradasa, 55, say that at their age they don’t have the option of looking outside the village for a new life.

After four decades of harvesting rice and herding cattle, he abandoned his paddy fields earlier this year when his harvest failed, and now spends his days moving his cattle around, looking for scarce water.

“It will take us another two to three harvests to recover our losses and pay off any debt. Even then it all depends on the rain,” Amaradasa said.

With average rains, Amaradasa said he used to make between 30,000 and 40,000 rupees a month ($200-$260). Now his income has fallen to a third of that, he said.

Sri Lanka’s drought, which by mid-August had affected 19 of the island’s 25 districts, has particularly devastated arid regions that lie outside the country’s wet western plains and mountains.

A joint report by the World Food Program and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, released in mid-June, classified the drought as worst in 40 years.

It predicted rice production this year in Sri Lanka would be almost 40 percent less than last year, and 35 percent lower than the five-year average. That amounts to the lowest harvest since 2004, it said.

Climate change

It also warned that Sri Lanka “is highly susceptible to climate change, and therefore the frequency of the weather hazards will likely increase as the earth warms.”

The impact on Sri Lanka’s economy is also likely to be substantial, with more than a quarter of the country’s labor force working in agriculture, a sector that contributes 8 percent of gross domestic product, the report said.

The situation is worst in villages like Adigama that rely almost entirely on rain to grow crops.

Suranga, the Adigama youth now working in Colombo, said he has no plans to return home. Instead he dreams of traveling to the Middle East as a construction worker.

“What is the guarantee there will be no more droughts or floods?” he asked. “When my father was my age, maybe the rains were much more predictable. Now only a fool will bet on the rains.”

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У Києві місцями підвищений рівень шкідливих домішок у повітрі – Держпродспоживслужба

Рівень забруднення повітря у Києві місцями перевищує допустиму норму, це випливає з даних, наведених 16 серпня прес-службою Головного управління Держпродспоживслужби у столиці України.

За повідомленням, станом на 13:00 16 серпня, на вулицях Довженка, Попудренка, площах Бессарабській і Деміївській, бульварі Лесі Українки, проспекті Оболонському зафіксували перевищення допустимої норми діоксиду азоту: 3,5-4,25 середньодобових гранично допустимих концентрацій (при допустимій нормі у 0,04).

Крім того, на вулицях Довженка, Попудренка, площах Бессарабській і Деміївській, бульварі Лесі Українки, проспектах Оболонському і Науки рівень забруднення формальдегідом досягнув 1,3-4 при гранично допустимій середньодобовій концентрації у 0,003.

У Держпродспоживслужбі додали, що підвищення показників пов’язане зі спекою. Лабораторні дослідження атмосферного повітря продовжуються.

У Державній службі з надзвичайних ситуацій раніше цього місяця вже попереджали про підвищений рівень шкідливих домішок у повітрі в Києві через спеку.

За даними синоптиків, найближчим часом у Києві утримається суха і спекотна погода.

 

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Ukraine Scrambles to Quash Fallout From North Korea Allegations

Ukrainian officials and analysts were quick to deny allegations that the Soviet-era Yuzhmash arms factory was a likely source of engine technology used in North Korea’s missiles and to redirect suspicions to Russia.  

“It is a complex and bulky piece of equipment. It is simply not possible to supply it by bypassing export procedures,” said Mykola Sunhurovskyi, director of military programs at the Razumkov Center, a Kyiv think tank, to VOA’s Ukrainian Service. “What is possible, is for North Korea to obtain engines left behind after rocket dismantling in Russia. That could be possible. Meaning Russia could have kept the engines after it had taken apart the rockets, which had been slated for dismantling. Those could have been supplied.”

Michael Elleman, the author of a research report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says Pyongyang probably got illicit help from inside Ukraine. But Elleman acknowledges that help also could have come from Russia.  

“There’s a lot of uncertainty as exactly how it could have been transferred. But, I think the likelihood is that the source is either in Russia or Ukraine,” Elleman told VOA’s Ukrainian Service.  

Elleman says he first became aware of the possibility of Ukrainian technology when he noticed similarities in photos of North Korea’s September 2016 ground test.

“Well, according to two sources that I’ve spoken with, the modifications that we’ve seen in North Korea – that modified engine has actually been seen in Ukraine. That doesn’t mean it was done by Yuzhnoye [Yuzhmash’s design bureau], it could have been done by others or simultaneously. This was a product that was made long ago and it’s just been leveraged by unsavory types who were able to extract it from either Ukraine or Russia.”

‘Completely untrue’

Yuzhmash, the Ukrainian factory, called the claims “completely untrue” and said it had not produced military-grade ballistic missiles since Ukraine’s 1991 independence from the Soviet Union.  

“There is such a high level of confidentiality at the factory and in general it is ensured by a multi-level system of security, which includes not only Yuzhmash services, but also municipal and state services,” Yuzhmash Deputy Director Oleh Lebedev told Reuters TV.

Elleman was first quoted in The New York Times, which cited its own intelligence sources, saying that Ukraine was a likely source. 

But Elleman says that even if Ukraine was a source, he sees no indication Ukrainian authorities would have been involved.

“I don’t believe the Ukrainian government was responsible in any way,” he said. “And I suspect if it did occur in Ukraine, they may not have known. It’s likely they would not have known.”

Other analysts argue that North Korea can build its own engines and would not need help. But all agree it would be a good idea for Ukraine to allow an investigation.  

“I believe in this situation, the MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] of Ukraine needs to invite the international community, with the first invitation to be extended to the USA, to conduct an investigation here in Ukraine, as well as globally to study exactly how North Korea was able to develop its missile program, whether there is a Chinese connection or a Russian connection,” said the director of Ukraine’s National Institute for Strategic Studies and former head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Volodymyr Horbulin.  

“These are the two countries which maintain close relations with the DPRK [North Korea]. The proposal from Ukraine for such an investigation should put an end to constant attacks on our country by those who suggest that it is constantly trading in something banned by international accords or agreements,” said Horbulin.  

Possible implications for U.S.-Ukraine cooperation

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday ordered an official inquiry into whether any missile engine technology could have been supplied to North Korea. Some experts in Ukraine worry that the allegations could affect any U.S. decision on whether to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons to fend off Russia-backed separatists.

“There’s ongoing discussion about the possibility to transfer lethal weapons to Ukraine,” noted the Ukrainian Center for Army’s Ihor Fedyk. “This story may have a negative impact on the process,” he told VOA’s Ukrainian Service.  

There are concerns that other areas of bilateral cooperation, such as space programs, could be affected.  

“America is our strategic partner, a very serious strategic partner, in space programs,” said the acting head of Ukraine’s State Space Agency, Yurii Radchenko. “It is not in our interests to harm relations with U.S. official agencies.”

U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert commented Tuesday, saying “We’re certainly aware of those reports that have come out. That’s an issue that we would take very seriously if that were to be the case.”  

“As a general matter, we don’t comment on intelligence reports. Ukraine, though, we have to say, has a very strong nonproliferation record. And that includes specifically with respect to the DPRK,” Nauert added.

The allegations surfaced as North Korea threatens to send missiles near the U.S. island territory of Guam.  

While Elleman’s allegations are investigated, the North Korean government appears to have stepped back from its threat to Guam, saying it will wait to see what further actions the United States takes.

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UK Vows Brexit Won’t Mean the Return of Irish Border Posts

The British government has vowed repeatedly to end the free movement of people from the European Union when the U.K. leaves the bloc in 2019. But on Wednesday it acknowledged that, in one area of the country, it won’t.

Britain said there must be no border posts or electronic checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic after Brexit, and it committed itself to maintaining the longstanding, border-free Common Travel Area covering the U.K. and Ireland.

“There should be no physical border infrastructure of any kind on either side of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland,” Conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May said.

That means free movement across the border for British, Irish — and EU —  citizens. After Britain leaves the bloc, EU nationals will be able to move without checks from Ireland to Northern Ireland, and onto other parts of the U.K.

Free movement among member states is a key EU principle, and has seen hundreds of thousands of people move to Britain and get jobs there since the bloc expanded into eastern Europe more than a decade ago.

Many Britons who voted last year to leave the EU cited a desire to regain control of immigration as a key reason.

In a paper outlining proposals for the Northern Ireland-Ireland border after Brexit, the British government insisted it will be able to control who can settle in the U.K. through work permits and other measures.

It said “immigration controls are not, and never have been, solely about the ability to prevent and control entry at the U.K.’s physical border.” Control of access to the labor market and social welfare are also “an integral part” of the immigration system, the paper added.

Northern Ireland is an especially thorny issue in Brexit talks, because it has the U.K.’s only land border with the EU — and because an open border has helped build the economic prosperity that underpins the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Since the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, British military checkpoints along the Ireland-Northern Ireland border have been dismantled, rendering it all but invisible. Thousands of people cross the 300-mile (500-kilometer) border every day.

Britain said it was determined that “nothing agreed as part of the U.K.’s exit in any way undermines” the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

The government’s Department for Exiting the European Union acknowledged that “unprecedented” solutions would be needed to preserve the peace process and maintain the benefits of an open border after Britain leaves the EU, its single market in goods and services and its tariff-free customs union.

It suggested a future “customs partnership” between Britain and the EU could eliminate the need for checks on goods crossing the border.

For agricultural and food products, Britain said one option could be “regulatory equivalence,” where the U.K. and EU agree to maintain the same standards. But it’s unclear what that would mean for Britain’s ability to trade with countries that do not always meet EU standards, such as the United States.

The Northern Ireland proposals came in a series of papers covering aspects of Brexit negotiations, which are due to resume in Brussels at the end of this month.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the document “brings some clarity and is certainly helpful to move this process forward.” But, he said, “there are still significant questions that are unanswered.”

European Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said Britain’s position papers — which come after allegations from EU officials that the U.K. is underprepared for the EU divorce negotiations — are “a positive step.”

 

“The clock is ticking and this will allow us to make progress,” she said.

 

Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this story.

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Plan to Silence Big Ben’s Beloved Bell Under Review

British Parliament officials said Wednesday they will review plans to silence Big Ben during four years of repairs after senior politicians criticized the lengthy muting of the beloved bell.

When the repairs were announced last year, officials said the massive bell in Parliament’s clock tower would be silenced for several months. But this week they said the ringing pause would last until 2021.

Prime Minister Theresa May said “it can’t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years.”

The 13.5 British ton (15.1 U.S. ton, 13.7 metric ton) bell has sounded the time almost uninterrupted since 1859, but it’s due to fall silent on Monday so repairs can be carried out on the Victorian clock and the Elizabeth Tower.

Officials say the silencing is needed to ensure the safety of workers.

Adam Watrobski, principal architect at the Houses of Parliament, rejected claims that the great bell that survived German bombing raids was the victim of overcautious health and safety regulations.

“It is quite simply that we can’t have the bells working with those people adjacent to it. It simply isn’t practical to do that,” he said.

In a statement Wednesday headlined “update on Big Ben’s bongs,” Parliament officials said that in light of the concerns expressed by lawmakers, authorities “will consider the length of time” Big Ben is stifled.

But they rejected calls to allow the bell to strike at night once workers have gone home. “Starting and stopping Big Ben is a complex and lengthy process,” they said.

The sound of Big Ben’s bongs became associated with Britain around the world during wartime BBC news broadcasts. It’s still heard live each day on BBC radio through a microphone in the belfry.

The BBC says it will use a recording during the renovation works.

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Військовий загинув у ДТП на Одещині

Український військовослужбовець загинув внаслідок дорожньо-транспортної пригоди на Одещині, повідомляє прес-служба оперативного командування «Південь».

За повідомленням, це сталося «в результаті необережності і як наслідок нещасного випадку».

Розслідування проводять представники військової служби правопорядку та Національної поліції України. Керівництво оперативного командування «Південь» призначило службове розслідування.

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Яценюк став співвласником телеканалу «Еспресо.TV»

Колишній прем’єр-міністр України Арсеній Яценюк став співвласником телеканалу «Еспресо.TV». Така інформація міститься в Держреєстрі.

Яценюк значиться у складі засновників-кінцевих бенефіціарів компанії «Астра Фінанс», яка є власницею ТОВ «Голдбері» – юридичної особи телеканалу. 

Крім того, серед кінцевих бенефіціарів «Астра Фінанс» – дружина глави МВС України Арсенія Авакова Інна і дружина народного депутата від фракції «Народний фронт» Миколи Княжицького Лариса. 

Як повідомила речниця Яценюка Ольга Лаппо, екс-прем’єр придбав корпоративні права телеканалу за 3,8 мільйона гривень. 

«Арсеній Яценюк цього року реалізував своє право опціону на придбання корпоративних прав. Угоду підписано 15 червня 2017 року», – написала вона на своїй сторінці в Facebook.

Арсеній Яценюк очолював Кабінет міністрів України з лютого 2014 року до квітня 2016 року. 

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