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US to phase out landmines, joins global treaty

© Photo: screengrab

Video by Richelle HARRISON PLESSE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-28

The United States said Friday it intends to sign up to an international treaty banning the use of anti-personnel landmines and will no longer produce or acquire the weapons in a move welcomed by human rights groups.

Washington announced its intention to sign the Ottawa Convention at a conference on landmines in the Mozambique capital Maputo.

The 15-year-old convention includes 161 nations that have signed on to prohibit the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

“The United States took the step of declaring it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines in the future, including to replace existing stockpiles as they expire,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

However, the US stopped short of saying it would actively destroy its stockpile while also giving no time frame for signing the treaty.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the country had finally "come out of the shadows" by moving closer to signing the pact, but urged it to go further by setting a specific date for signing the treaty and begin destroying its stockpile of landmines.

"It's a good first step, it's overdue, we've been waiting for an announcement for quite some time, but it's certainly not the end, there's a long way to go,” said Sarah Margon, the group’s Washington director.

“We'd like to see an end-date for the policy review and a clear indication of when they actually accede to the treaty."

HRW says the US has a reserve of about nine million self-destruct anti-personnel mines.

If and when the US puts pen to paper, it could pave the way for other countries to do the same. Several world powers, such as Russia and China, are yet to sign the convention.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-06-28

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