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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chevron Corp urged a federal appeals court not to force it into Ecuador's courts to defend a $27.4 billion lawsuit alleging its oilfields polluted the Amazon rainforest and sickened thousands of Ecuadorians.

Lawyers for Chevron contended the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York should instead uphold a lower court ruling in March allowing the second-largest U.S. oil company to take the 17-year-old case into international arbitration.

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