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Deal cut on 'blood diamonds'

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- A deal has been cut to curb the trade in "blood diamonds" that helps to finance wars in Africa.

Groups attending a three-day conference in Brussels, Belgium, vowed to set up an international certificate system to control the diamond trade by the end of the year.

The conference was attended by representatives from 38 countries, the diamond industry, humanitarian aid agencies and human rights groups

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"There is an emerging consensus on the common elements of...a certification scheme for rough diamonds," the head of South Africa's delegation, Thibedi Ramontja, said.

"It is not an easy task building an agreement among 38 governments. In the end, we hope to get a document bringing together importers, producers and consumers," he added.

South Africa, the world's biggest producer of uncut diamonds, chaired the meeting, helped by host country Belgium which has been a pioneer of export and import certificates.

But at the end of the conference, a statement issued by 70 of the humanitarian groups, including Global Witness and Oxfam, criticised international "inaction" on the issue.

"The time for hiding behind vague bureaucratic working and platitudes is over ... further stalling and inaction will damage the credibility and the viability of the diamond industry," the statement said.

"Blood diamonds" are believed to account for less than four percent of the world's $7 billion trade in uncut stones.

But they are said bring in enough money to keep wars going in countries like Angola, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).



RELATED STORIES:
Diamond sales enjoy record year
January 30, 2001
Diamond trade fuels bloody wars
January 18, 2001
Diamond industry approves ban on war-related gems
July 19, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Conflict diamonds
Global Witness
Oxfam International

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