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Monday, December 8, 1997 Published at 12:12 GMT

image: [ BBC Correspondent: Stephen Cviich ]Stephen Cviich

Delegates from around the world are gathering in the capital of Brazil, Brasilia, for a seven-day conference on the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs. The conference which starts on Monday aims to convince governments and international organisations that the study of extra-terrestial lifeforms deserves official recognition as a science. Here's our Brazil correspondent, Stephen Cviic:

This conference is the biggest of its kind ever held in Brazil and brings together more than 80 UFO specialists, or ufologists, from several countries, including the United States, Canada, Russia and China. It is being organized by a group of Brazilian ufologists who want to draw the world's attention to what they say is the increasing evidence of extra-terrestrial lifeforms, and they are keen to gain official recognition for their subject as a science in its own right.

The UFO specialists also want official archives on the subject to be opened, because they say governments know far more about it than they acknowledge. In particular, the conference organisers say there have been several military enquiries into alleged UFO sightings which have never been made public.

Brazil itself has proved a fertile ground for those who believe in the existance of life beyond our planet. In 1982 a military aeroplane is said to have collided with an unidentified flying object, and last year the town of Varginha, in the south-east of the country, attracted nationwide attention when a group of girls said they had seen an alien being.

It also seems particularly appropriate that this conference is being held in Brasilia. Brazil's futuristic purpose-built capital is regarded by some people as a place of mystical significance and the design of some of the buildings probably contributes to this impression.

The National Congress building is a good example of this. When they hold their debates, Brazil's deputies and senators are sitting under a roof which is crowned by two large, concrete saucers.

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