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U.S. to host global Y2K conferences

Despite growing concern over the escalating conflict in Kosovo, government officials are still keeping a focus on the year 2000 technology problem.

Despite growing concern over the escalating conflict in Kosovo, government officials are still keeping a focus on the year 2000 technology problem.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce William Daley today announced a new international initiative by his department to join "international partners" in the global effort to deal with year 2000 issues.

Daley, joined by the Back to Year 2000 Index Page President Clinton's point-man on Y2K, John Koskinen, outlined a new campaign that includes Commerce-coordinated Y2K conferences around the world.

The conferences will be aimed at exchanging year 2000 solutions, and will distribute educational materials to help countries best deal with the pending global deadline. Some of the materials to be distributed include 300,000 CD-ROM copies of a "Self Help Tool" in eight languages and two videos on the Y2K bug for public television and corporate use. The Commerce Department also plans to publish a Y2K Web site.

"Today we have one simple message," said Daley. "It is this: We want to work with our trading partners to prevent the Y2K problem from becoming the first global economic crisis of the next millennium."

Daley's announcement comes just days after Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), vice chairman of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, returned from a trip to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. There, Dodd discussed the current crisis in Kosovo with NATO members, as well as Year 2000 technology efforts in the individual countries.

"They have had a lot of complications over there with the introduction of three new countries into the NATO alliance, but they are paying a lot of attention," Dodd said. "NATO Secretary General Javier Solana was also at the meetings. He takes this issue very seriously."

Dodd praised the Commerce Department's initiative as another way to get the nations of the world on the same page as they individually deal with the Y2K bug.

Daley said he is addressing the concerns of U.S. executives from across the country. "They are concerned that some nations and some international companies are not taking the Y2K problem as seriously as they should or don't have the tools to identify the problems or solutions," he said.

Along with a host of other Senators, business leaders and administration officials, South Africa's ambassador to the United States, Sheila Sisulu, said she was pleased that international conferences were in the works.

"The Year 2000 technology problem can have far reaching problems, even for those countries who have made good progress in their conversion efforts," she said. "No country, no matter how far along in their efforts, is immune to Y2K problems in other countries."

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