21 July, 2024


President Maithripala Sirisena’s Speech At United Nations General Assembly: Full Text

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. There are solutions in Buddhist teachings to most of the problems faced by the people in this world. Similarly, those who follow other religions like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity too can find answers to these problems by these great religious philosophies.

*Full text of the transcription of the speech delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly – 22. 09. 2016

I am extremely happy to take part in this 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I wish to bring to the notice of Your Excellencies the current situation in my country. I have been in power for the last 15 months. There are many problems in my country.


We have, in recent months, taken many important steps for socio-economic transformation. Before I came to power, people in my country were living in fear and I ended that period and made the people free of fear, established rule of law and restored democratic rights.

My intention is to make peole of Sri Lanka one of the happiest among the world communities by establishing a knowledge-based society. I am determined to alleviate poverty in my country. For that purpose I have declared 2017 as the Year of Alleviation of Poverty.

In order to improve the living standards of our people, we have to provide better facilities for economic development. I have given the topmost priority to take my country forward by working in cooperation with the United Nations and its agencies and other institutions. We have to make necessary changes to achieve sustainable development. The priority areas of the government include establishment of a knowledge-based economy with new initiatives and creation of a green economy.

As an Island-Nation, Sri Lanka wishes to make maximum utility of sea resources, fisheries and marine resources. All these require new technology and we seek the support of the international community for these purposes. Sri Lanka is a country with free education and free health services and the country has all the basic infrastructure requirements for speedy development.

The world today is full of hate, violence and fear. We must free our people from such hatred and fear and establish a society with moral values. The government is totally committed to reconciliation process to establish lasting peace. That would definitely prevent occurance of another war in our country. Terrorism lasting three decades has ended and now we have undertaken the process of reconciliation among the different communities. We require the support of the international community to successfully face these challenges.

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. There are solutions in Buddhist teachings to most of the problems faced by the people in this world. Similarly, those who follow other religions like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity too can find answers to these problems by these great religious philosophies.

I am totally committed to eradicate drugs. As the President of Brazil said this morning, illicit drugs have become the most serious challenge faced by our societies today. Unless we take early steps to stop the menace of drugs we will be faced with a catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude. The harm caused to the people, especially the young students by illicit drugs is very serious. We have to eradicate drugs and ensure that illicit drugs would not reach our countries.

We have taken effective steps to strengthen democracy, rule of law and good governance in our country. We want to create a better country for our people. To achieve these, I need the assistance of the international community.

Different countries have their own unique authentic thinking. We too have such authentic thinkings and visions. I want to create a country, in which our people can live as better humans and I need your support for this endeavour.

I wish to take this opportunity to express appreciation about the services rendered by the outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He provided and excellent service to the entire world.
I would like to metion that my desire is to arm the new generation with knowledge and modern technology. I will do my duties and fulfill my responsibilities towards my people and I seek your assistance and blessings of you all for this task.

Thank you

May the Triple Gem bless you!

*Full text of the transcription of the speech delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly – 22. 09. 2016 Sent by President’s Media Unit.

To watch the speech click here

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Latest comments

  • 10

    Good speech Mr President. Having committed yourself to good Governance of our Country in the presence of the entire world body now you have to deliver or else your image will be shat on.BRING TO HEEL ALL THOSE CORRUPT AND DEPRAVED POLITICIANS OF THE PREVIOUS REGIME AND THE CURRENT ONE.

    Remember action speaks louder than words. Good luck !!

    • 7

      Sorry, full of contradictions.
      ”…. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. There are solutions in Buddhist teachings to most of the problems faced by the people in this world. …. I need your support for this endeavour …….”

      They have given support for decades but ignored by successive governments including the present one.

      Your Excellency will be surprised by the results if the recommndations made by the UN(=members) in various reports are implemented, eg

      ”Paragraphs of particular importance
      39. The Committee wishes to draw the attention of the State party to the particular importance of the recommendations contained in paragraphs 11, 15, 17, and 24 above and requests the State party to provide detailed information in its next periodic report on the concrete measures taken to implement those recommendations”
      – Concluding observations on the tenth to seventeenth periodic reports of Sri Lanka, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination(UNCERD), 26 August 2016, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CERD/Shared%20Documents/LKA/CERD_C_LKA_CO_10-17_24983_E.pdf

      • 3

        ”Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. There are solutions in Buddhist teachings to most of the problems faced by the people in this world. Similarly, those who follow other religions like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity too can find answers to these problems by these great religious philosophies”

        Many people from various religions have been over the last several decades evolving into humanists.

      • 0

        davidson panabokke,

        Good of you to draw attention to the UN Report.

        This should be printed in full and circulated among all MPs, provincial governors, heads of departments and government agents.
        This should ensure a collective effort in implementing the provisions of same.

        If this happens, many social problems will become non-existent and we will have ‘democracy’ in every sense of the word.

      • 1

        The thg in yellow robes want the Buddhists to be united to beat the h–l out of the Muslims!!

    • 5

      All the wealth Looted from our country by our past and present. Ministers have been used as properties and Business ventures for their own Kiths and kins.

      I can name a many of those in the category.
      While Their sons and daughters are enjoying the Luxury of the Loots , Our country has gone again to the UN to BEG FOR MONEY AND HELP .






      President ! The Speech at the UN was great , I only hope and pray , That what your PROMISE TO THE UN you will be able to full fill .
      SRILANKA is a country made up of Multi Religion with Buddhism as Majority. That’s the History of SL .
      Twisting and confusing the world will only Backfire to the true all allegiance you made at the UN.

      Every citizen , Sinhala, Tamil , Muslims , Burghers and Malays of Srilanka are striving for happiness as you promised.
      Every single citizen deserves it.

      Firstly claw back the wealth looted and punish the culprits whether they are the biggest fish or small.
      When it comes to LAW , LET ALL ARE EQUALLY TREATED.


    • 5

      I was first disappointed when I was going through the text of the transcription. However, it was not the case when I was listening to his speech in Sinhala. I would blame the translators for creating a misunderstanding, whatever the other criticisms one would have on the contents.

      He never said ‘I have been in power for the last 15 months.’ He did refer to the period “before my government came to power” (mage rajaya balayata pathweemata pera) but not ‘Before I came to power.’ He referred to “20 months or so,” but not to 15 months, which is incorrect by any count. Even the first sentence of the transcript is misleading. He said “I am extremely happy to take part …as the President of Sri Lanka” and not as just ‘I.’

      The transcript gives the impression that the President was talking as a dictator or an authoritarian person. I believe (and hope) it is not the case. Even when you go to the original speech, I believe there is much the President could improve to reflect a democratic culture. If he has said “mage rajaya nilayata (not balayata) pathweemata pera” then it could have been translated as ‘before my government came to office’ and not “power.” The obsession with “power” has to change for the sake of democracy. This is an improvement that I am suggesting for all concerned.

      What has created more controversy and disaffection supposedly is his statement allegedly emphasizing ‘Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country.’ That was not the case. In the transcription, his statement was given out of context. In my quick translation this is what he said:

      “Mr President, in many countries in the world today, in the prevailing international context, we see wars, war like situations, and sometimes more barbaric conditions as a result of disunity, hatred and revenge in society. The absence of a moral fibre necessary for our human society is a major problem. In today’s conflict ridden societies, the need to build a citizenry based on morality is important, and I believe all countries should give priority to this need. Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country, I believe that the wisdom revealed by the Theravada philosophy would be useful for resolving many problems in the world today. Similarly, I believe it is necessary for all countries to strengthen and expand religious and spiritual philosophies based on Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions, in resolving civilizational problems that we are faced with.”

      He didn’t emphasize ‘Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country.’ He took the example “Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country” (Sri Lankawa baudhha ratak vidiyata). He never used the word ‘terrorism,’ right or wrong. He referred to “sometimes more barbaric conditions” (athemvita ethamath melechathwa thathwayan). Previous to his reference to Buddhism and other religions, he was not referring to Sri Lanka at all as the transcript says. He was talking in general terms, as it should be the case in such a UN forum, emphasizing the ‘need to rebuild the deteriorating moral fibre of society through religious and spiritual awakening,’ right or wrong. I am here referring to the erroneous and damaging transcription. His statement above was an entry point to what he said immediately after on the drug menace engulfing, as he said, many countries.

      There are so many other errors in the transcription, although I am here highlighting only two aspects (1) which gives an impression of an authoritarian presidential presentation and (2) gives a bigoted religious emphasis on Buddhism which was not the case in his speech.

      • 3


        I have said before and identified you as an agent of Ranil. You are a biased Christian agent , it would have hurt you, Ranil and Chandrika when this particular news article started with the statement “SRI LANKA IS A BUDDHIST COUNTRY”.

        We now know clearly the positions taken by various political leaders in the “POWER SHARING GOVERNMENT”. Your translation is immaterial to the Sinhala Buddhists, however, I am not surprised at all of your quick reaction especially after I have directly challenged you on the same topic about two months ago.

      • 0

        Dr. Laksiri;

        I just watched the video clip of the speech given by
        His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena at the UNGA, NY. Six Minutes and 42 seconds (06.42) into his speech, the President without any hesitation and clearly stated that “SRI LANKA IS A BUDDHIST COUNTRY”.

        What are you trying to prove with your spinning skills?

        God bless you


    • 1

      Great speech Mr. president.

      1. Sri Lanka is Sinhala Buddhist Country. Buddhism is the State Religion. Sinhalese is the Official language. Tamils and Muslims are second and Third class citizens.

      Drugs and Booze are freely available in the Northern Province. Over 150,000 Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhist armed soldiers are still occupying the Northern Province. The SLA has occupied Tamils lands and engaged in Farming and in Fishing making the Tamil population unemployed.how can you have reconciliation when the Northern Tamils are under a Military Junta and racist Sinhala Governor. Now the war is over and there is no need the Army to remain in the Northern Province.

  • 8

    President Maithripala Sirisena’s Speech At United Nations General Assembly:

    “The highest priority for My Government is to white-van Gnanasara”.

  • 2

    Excellent speech. Good command and control of verbosity .

    • 1

      One doesn’t have to read it carefully to note the bluff full of contradictions.

  • 1

    Is this guy serious….

    Poverty will be alleviated in 2017 Why not 2015 AND OR 2016?..

    Mahavamsa land will be a knowledge based Economy…

    70 percent of our nation are Sinhala Buddhists.

    Great majority in fact 70 to 80 percent of them are rural poor people who do not have proper housing , proper educational facilities, adequate Health Care and last but not least, no job opportunities specially after Yahapalana put a full stop to all Infrastructure for political reasons as well as trying to get commissions.

    Akila Viraj is in charge of Education.

    Ammata Digital Harin is looking after Digital Development and Information Technology with the help of the Sira brother at the Srilankan Telco,

    What marvellous bunch to make ours a knowledge based economy.

    What a load of hog wash..

    I am glad that the dude gave this spiel in Sinhala.

    Otherwise knowledgeable people would have been embarrassed listening to it.

    At lease Batalanada Ranil dishes out pragmatic Bull Shit..

    Like the Million Assembly Jobs , and the latest. 1700 Chinese Factories for the Dalits in Keselwatta Kid’s political neck of the woods.

    • 0

      Mr Sumanasekera you raise an important point, how to involve the rural majority (again majoritarianism) in the country in development. Too often our techie Colombo crowd things everything is digital. And too often unrealistic things are promised. Meanwhile a TV station has taken upon itself to build infrastructure and provide drinking water for the rural poor.

      Were you there for President Premadasa’s inaugaral speech where he said that leaders should mix with the people and serve their needs? I was not there but it is on YouTube. President Premadasa (literaly ‘love-slave’ referring to a slave who, given freedom, instead continues to serve) never castigated the “Jayawardena Regime” althought arguably the most damaging period in our recent history. Youg Sajit, his son, was standing right behind him at that time, hopefully he will follow in the footsteps of the father.

  • 1

    Dear Mr. President

    A commendable speech, and the move to make 2017 the year of poverty reduction is a much needed initiative. More needs to be done, however, somehwat along the lines of the ‘gammada’ program in Sirasa TV. Why not provide incentives for the private sector to get involved in reducing poverty, at least in the short term until the government gets rid of debt over the next five years?

    We need to also adress the dumping of plastics into the Indian Ocean. Urgent steps need to be taken. I trust that you have already started on a program to adress these problems, I hope you will be able to establish substantial reductions in environmental damage over the next year or so.

    I wish you best of luck in establishing an SLFP government in the near future!

  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 0

    ” For that purpose I have declared 2017 as the Year of Alleviation of Poverty.”

    how can he do that with the looming power cuts.O i forgot,with everyone planting yams the whole day we don’t need power.


    and our women also will be the happiest people with such yams.

    with his partner ranil sabotaging the sampur power plant like what he did to the norochcholai in 2002,we indeed will be out of poverty fast.Today if not for the norodicholai which mahinda finished giving half our power we would be in the dark and spending billions on the diesal plants which are now dormant.

  • 1

    “knowledge-based economy with new initiatives and creation of a green economy.” Way to go Mr. President, but I wonder how many of your citizens knew this, felt this or are driven for this.

    My be a thought, a revelation, that you gathered the night before. Still it’s a good idea and please commit your policies in this direction. All the best.

  • 1

    The President was in the unenviable predicament of trying to please all the people.Bensen

  • 2

    Theravada Buddhism is Dravidian Buddhism practised in South Asia. But the Buddhists in Sri Lanka will never accept that they are Dravidians because Tamils are Dravidians!

    • 0


      I never heard a thing call ‘Dravidian Buddhism’. What we know is Therawada (Heenayana) and Mahayana. Can you explain what is ‘Dravidian Buddhism’.

    • 1



      Yes there are Tamil Buddhists in India and Sri Lanka. We don’t care whether they are Dravidians or Aryans. What matters is they are Buddhists. The true followers of the Buddhist doctrine ignore cast, creed and nationality.

      A good practicing Hindu may interpret Buddhism as a branch of Hinduism. It is fine too. Forget the interpretations and let us look for what are the other common factors that we can celebrate as Sri Lankans together.

      Miga Nandri

  • 4

    To some idiots this sounds like an excellent speech as this is only what they are used to– just speeches and talk.
    So Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country? Really? – first of all the correct ways to say this is “Sri Lanka is a country where most people are Buddhists” There are no Buddhist, Christian or Islamic countries. If you bother to think about it bit you will realise this is how problems start in the first place – when leaders fail to separate religion and state. So Theravada Buddhism will let us solve all our problems? I am sure it does if it is practised as the philosophy that is was supposed to be preached by Lord Buddha, by certainly not the way is practiced in Sri Lanka, where temples have become sanctuaries for corrupt politicians and thugs to manifest their feign faith and get a seal of approval from high priests who wear only the finest silk robes, to their nefarious activities.
    And you want to alleviate poverty in 2017? Hmm do you know what poverty is even? I guess one of your plans to alleviate poverty is allocate over Rs. 500m to the regional development ministry without even knowing what it will delivered for this money. Has there been any agreement with the minister what are the deliverables and the time frame? Has anyone bothered to see whether this is good value for money? When the ministers are interested only in getting better car than the other one or what car their son wants to drive, you are more likely to see an augmentation of excess and more luxury cars on the roads than and reduction in poverty in 2017.
    Like many leaders before this fools there will be speeches like this in years to come, when they don’t themselves have any idea what they are talking about. When he comes homes his children will be rallying around to see what daddy brought from NY. All these grandiose speeches will be forgotten and all crooks will be going back to what they were doing before. Spineless leaders would sit around and let the good time roll for a few as long as they can stay on for power as long as possible.
    If you want to alleviate poverty and help your countrymen, come to an agreement with them what will be delivered and when. That is how responsible leaders work, not just make meaningless speeches at world stage to get a pat on the back from your masters to show how a good little puppy you have been.

  • 1

    Why not give Eelam and settle the matter once and for all. Out of the total population in the country 11% are Tamils. Moors 5%. Moors also speak Tamil. So give them 16% of the land in the North for Tamil speaking people, draw the boarder as a straight line from East to West and put up a wall. Keep only one boarder crossing. Then tell all the Tamil speaking people to move to Eelam. This should be given as a non-negotiable offer. Take it or leave it.

    • 0

      then you have lost control of the palk strait.men and materials can be ferried across at will.That is why it is better to have the tamils in the south.

      • 2

        “That is why it is better to have the tamils in the south.”

        So you want North only for Tamils and rest of the country multi-ethnic, multi-religion, multi-cultural, multi-lingual. If that is the reconciliation you expect, forget it.

        Sri Lankan Navy is capable of taking care of movement of goods and people to Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu will definitely dump goods and people to Eelam. That is your problem.

        • 0

          SL Citizen

          “Then tell all the Tamil speaking people to move to Eelam.”

          once you give the 16% of land that you advocate for eelam you also give the sea adjoining it as per the maritime law.So the SL navy cannot patrol the palk strait.It is better to have the current arrangement and encourage more and more tamils to drift towards south.

          As for having the north exclusively for tamils,you have to bring up this matter with the international community and put pressure to settle sinhalese openly and not surreptitiously.There is no need to go on the defensive as srilanka belongs to all and IC will have to admit it.

          Unfortunately your diplomatic corps is not a professional outfit to do this as it has been packed by governments with their kith and kin.

  • 3

    The President delivered a short and sweet speech, touching on most
    subjects,concerned with development of our country. He did not waste time bragging on war victories nor made any bogus claims that He has cleared all the problems in the country. He in fact has asked for help from developed countries, and United Nations for new technology to develop the country, which is a good move. Part of his speech was on
    his efforts to unite all the communities together and his intention is to move forward and not back wards like what the previous regimes did.

    He talked about Buddhism, being the main religion and spread of drugs & drug addicts in the country. These two does not go together as
    Buddhism is a good religion, which preaches non violence and ahimsa and the followers have faith in the religion.The people who spoil the good name are the people who preach the great teachings of lord Buddha,
    like Gnanassera Thera, who lashed out at the Muslims, couple of days back. This was not an isolated incident but many from the Buddhist clergy continue to lash out other religions,and people of other faiths,
    which is not what lord Buddha preached and force is used is used in some instances like in Jaffna where Buddhists statues were erected on private lands, throwing the owners out.No religion has control over another religion in democratic countries and conversion is unlawful.

  • 2

    Dear Participants,
    There may be some errors in translation, but the style of the translation cannot be different to his falsified speech. Do you all know what exactly the lies are?. At home he promised the criminals, he will safeguard all of them and not allow foreign judges to hear war crimes. But he is deliberately lying he has done everything for reconciliation. You all know what is going on in the North and East. He also wanted the OMP to see that no names of criminals are published and promised the criminals he will see to their safety. What a Country Sri Lanka is? There is no hope for stopping programs and crimes against Tamils. There has been a planned genocide as there is no measure taken for the safeguard of minorities. This has been the policy of all successive majority Governments for a long time. The response to the Tamil leaders measures to live in peace and harmony has been met with violence and regular pogroms. What is the new response for the cosigned UNHRC commitment?. Do you see anything taking place for reconciliation?

    • 1

      I suppose the government could simply keep to its promises regarding reconciliation? Would that be too much to expect?

  • 1

    Forgive me, the quote at the beginning is not what the English translator told to the General Assembly (GA) of UN. I quote bellow some exact words he said;

    “Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country. The Therawada Buddhism philosophy can be made use to solve most of the problems faced by the world today. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and all the other religions and religious philosophies should be followed and I think that this is an era in which all the governments should pay the attention to this fact.”

    GA was listening either to English translation or the translations of other four official languages of UN. Can someone explain the meaning of the above quote uttered by translator? The whole actual translation was very unprofessional. Many Sri Lankans who heard the speech live were saddened.

  • 1

    Mr. President thank you for stating the following real and absolute fact in the UNGA, New York.

    “Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. There are solutions in Buddhist teachings to most of the problems faced by the people in this world…”

    But It is only rhetoric to gain attention outside of Sri Lanka. I am sorry to say, your position is limited and applied within personal confines only. Ranil and Chandrika seem to be pulling in a different direction. We, the Sinhala-Buddhist would like to see and read the clause “SRI LANKA IS A BUDDHIST COUNTRY” in the constitution and it is adopted by the parliament of Sri Lanka without any “ifs” and “buts”.

    The state officials and politicians have been hoodwinking the Sinhala Buddhists for a long time. It is the STATE RELIGION of SRI LANKA; dubious politicians have been using Buddhism, Buddhist practices and Buddhist traditions only as symbolic gestures at meetings and important events.

    Non-Buddhists and Buddhist converts or part-time Buddhists in Sri Lanka prefer to limit the clause with regard to the above with
    “Buddhism is the foremost religion” or “Predominantly a Buddhist Country”. This is the position conveyed by the media agents and spin doctors appointed by certain dubious political leaders of your “POWER SHARING GOVERNMENT”.

    I wish you good luck, May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with you always.

    September 22 2016

  • 1

    Much better speech than former President’s speeches at the UN Assembly, except the current President’s believe or dependecy on SL RELIGIONS.

    If SL religions can solve the problems how and why

    1.SWRD came to power and then got assasinated before the full term,
    2. JR made BC pact to be torn
    3. after the 58 riots, many of the Tamils were deported from the south by ships from Colombo harbour to Tricimalle harbour and Pointpedro harbour as there were no occupied multi racial armed forces in large numbers in the NE.
    4. rathu sahotharyos together with Srimavo coalition brought the 1972 constittution
    5. There were JVP,EROS, PLOTE,EPRLF ,LTTE uprisings by the SL youths
    6. the 1983 riots broke out and the then president delibrately delayed the police and armed forces to restore law and order.
    7 Rajeev Gandhi’s forces dropped parripu
    and JR have to call IPKF to come in and allowed the navy man to aim Rajeev Ggandis head
    9. Since 2009 Law and order can not be maintained to satisfactory level.
    10. for the last 60 years SL leaders used religion to come to power or hid behind the skirts of religions and languages.

  • 0

    President of MS to undertaken to safeguard and protected country two key issues as follow;

    1 Respect and accepts Unitary character of Sri Lankan Republic .

    2 The country Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity and Independent
    is the key pillar of ours democracy.

    He(MS) has been elected by majority votes after, he left SLFP -candidate of Presidential race, then become New leader of UNP current ruling governances with Old UNP-led by Ranil W… and new Federalist splinter group of SLFP led CBK of Tamil decedent that advocated for Tamil Federalism for North!

    The members of UNO has lost this message by President of SL -speech in General Assembly….2016 September.

    He(MS) has no mandate to be partition of Island by Majority voters.
    This is New UNP -policies led by MS and their followers has to realized.

    There are Certain incorrigible “elites” of Christian Ideologies that want to re-correct MS speech by and large his path for anti-Buddhist line of western oriented flexible line of Neo-libertinism, but it is not possible.

    Why is that, majority Buddhist are voters of President .
    He cannot betray majority ,that is NOT democracy .

    Take example from USA under First Black of President Mohammed Barack Obama cannot stop that USA policies are nakedly killed Black citizens!


    But that is not happing in Sri lanka. Ours is other side of democracy Minority Killed the Majority .30 YEARS THAT WAS HAPPEN IN SRI LANKN UNDER LTTE AND TNA POLITICS OF GUN-RULE TAMIL TERRORISM.

    The Minority become leader of Opposition in Parliament ?

    Ours democracy work upside down? Majority become voiceless .

    There is some where wrong in that democracy working different mode, since 2015 January 9th after Mathripala Sirisena being to power.

    This is New policies New- UNP leaders of MS , but the 193 Members of UNO has no knowledge about this, even MS has omitted this messages UNO by his speech this truth has not came out to the Members UNO?

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