From Thu Dec 2 19:15:08 2004
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 19:13:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject: [NYTr] News Summary from RHC—Nov 29, 2004
Article: 197575
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Washington Boycotts Global Summit on Land Mines

Radio Havana Cuba, 29 November 2004

Nairobi, November 29 (RHC)— The United States, increasingly under attack by resistance forces in Iraq, has urged the international community to consider banning all sales of antitank and other heavy land mines, but is boycotting an international conference on mines designed to kill or injure people.

Members of the Ottawa Convention gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday to review implementation of the 1997 accord that bans use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of antipersonnel land mines. The Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World officially got underway Monday and runs through the rest of this week.

As many as 143 nations have signed on to the Ottawa Convention, which took effect in March 1999. But a number of countries, led by the United States, have refused, citing the need to protect their troops in various theaters of deployment.

In a written statement released over the weekend, Deputy State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli gave no indication of change in the US approach and said US diplomats would not be attending the Nairobi gathering. Supporters of a ban on land mines report that nearly 20,000 people are killed or injured in explosions around the world every year.

The State Department official urged convention members to examine their use of non-self-destructing anti-vehicle mines and agree to negotiate, at the UN Conference on Disarmament, “a ban on the sale or export of all persistent mines, including anti-vehicle mines.”

The proposal came after Pentagon officials have expressed their growing concern about the use of so-called improvised explosive devices by resistance forces in Iraq. US troops in Iraq travel primarily in Humvees and what are called ‘Bradley Fighting Vehicles,’ which are vulnerable to devices made from antitank mines.

Earlier, US Assistant Secretary of State Lincoln Bloomfield sought to assure members of the Ottawa Convention that they will find in the United States a “strong partner” in trying to prevent humanitarian tragedies caused by land mines. But he reaffirmed the US decision to stay out of the convention because the Pentagon deems it necessary to have land mines at its disposal either to save US forces in the field or to save a population that the United States is ‘protecting.’