After U.S. refusal, land mine treaty talks move into final phase
By DOUG MELLGREN Associated Press Writer, OSLO, Norway (AP)

An international conference on land mines adopted a treaty text today that calls for an immediate and total ban on anti-personnel mines, a day after the United States refused to sign such a document.

Adoption of the text by the 89 other countries at the talks had been expected after the United States dropped its efforts to force changes in the treaty Wednesday.

Land mines are estimated to kill or maim some 26,000 people a year, about 80 percent of them civilians.

The treaty, expected to be signed in December, calls for a total ban on production, export and use of anti-personnel mines. The United States had sought a nine-year delay in implementing the treaty, an exception for mines placed to protect anti-tank mines and a provision allowing countries to withdraw from the treaty if they came under attack.

Ban proponents said such provisions would weaken the treaty beyond usefulness.

President Clinton said he would not sign the treaty without these exceptions because "No one should expect our people to expose our armed forces to unacceptable risks."

Washington's refusal to go along with the immediate and total ban was greeted with some disappointment.

"We certainly need the United States on board," said Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Egeland. He predicted that the United States would end up signing the treaty at a December ceremony in Ottawa, Canada.

"I believe internal forces in the United States will be tremendous, with campaigns by hundreds of groups and senators," Egeland said. That view was shared by Sen. Patrick Leahy, a prominent member of Clinton's Democratic Party and a top advocate of banning mines.

"Of course, I am disappointed that the United States is not part of the treaty, but I have no doubt that our country eventually will join other nations in a worldwide land mine ban," he said in Washington.

The treaty calls for the destruction of all stockpiled land mines with four years and mine-fields within 10 years of ratification. It also requires countries account for mine stocks, and allows visits by U.N. fact-finding teams.

An estimated 100 million to 300 million anti-personnel mines are deployed in about 60 countries worldwide, often killing or crippling people decades after a conflict has ended.

Removing the mines now in place would cost about $30 billion, Leahy has estimated.




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