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UAE talks with BlackBerry progressing

Aug 18 2010 16:37 AFP

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Dubai - The United Arab Emirates is making progress in talks with the Canadian makers of BlackBerry smartphones, said an official who expressed hope a ban on some of the device's key services can be avoided.

"We are in talks with Research in Motion (RIM) and we are making good progress and hopefully we will be able to reach conclusions in the near future," Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the United States, was quoted as saying in Wednesday's Khaleej Times daily.

Asked whether the negotiations could lead to the suspension of a ban that the UAE's telecoms regulator ordered on the BlackBerry services from October 11, Otaibi said: "I hope so."

The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority had announced on August 1 that BlackBerry's messenger, email and web browsing services would be halted for failing to comply with the Gulf country's regulations.

It said later that the decision was final.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia followed suit with an immediate cut of services which lasted few hours on August 6, before the suspension was lifted after the kingdom's regulator reported progress in finding a solution for its concerns.

The UAE has some 500 000 subscribers to BlackBerry services, while Saudi Arabia has more than 700 000 users.

RIM is under pressure from other countries who are also concerned that the encrypted messenger and email services are not accessible to their intelligence monitoring.

India, which has about 1.1 million subscribers, has urged the Canadian firm to satisfy its demand for access to the encrypted messaging service, sending a formal notice to mobile operators ordering them to provide the access.

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