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DeBeers to call for 'blood diamond' crackdown

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: DeBeers, the world's largest diamond trader, will reportedly join a delegation of human rights organizations from African nations today.

They are calling for a government crackdown on trade in so-called "blood diamonds." These are gems traded for the benefit of rebel groups, criminal gangs and money-launderers.

The Times of London says alarm bells have been ringing at DeBeers. The company is responding to reports of smuggling blood diamonds from the Ivory Coast. That West African nation is in the grip of a civil war.

DeBeers wants African governments to clampdown on lax import and export controls.

Times reporter Carl Mortished says the timing of today's announcement is significant in two ways.

CARL MORTISHED: We are now approaching the Christmas retail season and this is a time of the year when jewelers and diamond merchants tend to make a lot of money. Also there is a Hollywood film about to appear on the screen in December featuring Leonardo diCaprio called "Blood Diamonds," and even if this film is not a blockbuster it will raise the consciousness of this issue in the public.

A plan known as the Kimberly process was set up three years ago to cleanse the industry of blood diamonds.

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