US offers compromise on global landmine ban

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The Independent Online
In a major reversal, the United States has offered to sign a global treaty banning landmines under a compromise that would allow an additional nine years before the ban takes effect, US officials said yesterday. But they said negotiations in Oslo were nearing the end game and it was not at all clear if the compromise would be accepted. "A compromise has been offered that would be nine years from signature," one said. Countries could elect to defer implementing the ban on deploying new landmines for nine years from signing the treaty, which is expected to be signed in December. Negotiators had discussed a two-year phase-in period. The official stressed that the compromise of nine years was the same period that existed under an earlier convention on conventional weapons that regulated landmines.

Until this weekend, when it told allies of its new position, the US had said it could not sign any treaty that limited its ability to use anti- personnel landmines to defend South Korea from an attack from the North. But officials said pressure had been building in favour of the treaty, forcing the proposal. - Reuters