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Saudis, BlackBerry-Maker Strike Deal

Officials in Saudi Arabia say the country has reached an agreement with BlackBerry, avoiding a permanent ban on the smartphone's messaging service.

The officials spoke Saturday on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

They said the deal calls for the smartphone maker to install computer servers inside Saudi Arabia.  Saudi officials would then be able to access the servers and monitor messages in order to maintain security.

The officials said BlackBerry is in the process of installing and testing the new servers.

Saudi Arabia announced it would suspend messenger services Friday because the maker of the devices has failed to meet Riyadh's demands for access to encrypted information.

News organizations said BlackBerry users in Saudi Arabia reported temporary interruptions in service, but that many were still able to access the messenger service Friday in spite of the threatened ban.

BlackBerry is still facing potential bans in the United Arab Emirates and India.

The UAE has said it will suspend e-mail, web browsing and instant messenger services on BlackBerry devices starting October 11.  The ban will not affect telephone and text messaging services.  

Like Saudi Arabia, the UAE actively censors websites and other forms of media seen as harming national security.

India has also voiced concern about the fact that BlackBerry technology makes it nearly impossible for a third party to monitor users' communications.

U.S. State Department officials said Thursday they are trying to intervene as a growing number of countries raise concerns about BlackBerry technology, saying its super-secure network could threaten national security.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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