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World Cup Prostitution Scrutinized

The Bush administration is waiting to see whether extensive talks with German officials will stop people from being forced into prostitution during the World Cup.

"What will happen at this point, I don't know," said Ambassador John Miller, head of the State Department's human trafficking office. Miller said that his office was expecting a report soon from German officials.

Miller's testimony came before a House subcommittee hearing on the State Department's sixth annual human trafficking report. Released earlier this month, it chided Germany for its policy of legalized prostitution.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., head of the human rights panel, has urged Germany to recriminalize prostitution.

"It is time for Chancellor (Angela) Merkel to take a stand and speak out against the exploitation of women and children in the name of the sport," Smith said. "I would encourage her government to turn the tables — beginning now with the World Cup — by committing to reverse Germany's laws on prostitution."

German officials did not speak at the hearing but left a lengthy news release with reporters saying the country has always placed a high priority on fighting human trafficking. The release also said that major public events like the World Cup pose a risk of human trafficking.

"However, there is no sound proof whatsoever that would corroborate any of the figures about thousands of women expected to be trafficked into Germany," the release said.

German Embassy officials did not return a telephone message seeking comment Wednesday.

Miller said German officials have told him that they have strengthened the police presence at World Cup venues, opened emergency hot lines and have given police awareness training.

Before Miller testified, actress Julia Ormond, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, gave a briefing on efforts worldwide to combat human trafficking.

"I believe this is one of the most heinous problems facing the world today," said Ormond, whose screen credits include "Sabrina" and "First Knight."

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