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'Help us achieve a mine-free world'
December 2, 2004
Nairobi - African leaders called on landmine-producing countries on Thursday to join an international treaty to ban the deadly devices because there is "no justification" to keep them.

President Mwai Kibaki and Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika said that if the major landmine-producing countries joined the 1997 Ottawa Convention to ban anti-personnel mines, then the treaty's goal of a mine-free world could be achieved.

They were speaking during the high-level segment of the first five-year review of the treaty, during which more than 1 300 delegates are also discussing an action plan for the next five years.

China, Russia and the United States are among 15 countries that produce or still have the capacity to produce landmines, according to the 2004 Landmine Monitor, the annual report of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. They have not signed the treaty.

"If small countries can eliminate these weapons from their arsenals, there is no justification for the mighty and powerful states and those with sophisticated weapons to continue clinging on to them," said Kibaki.

Wa Mutharika said he appealed, "particularly to the super power states to show solidarity and accede to the convention so that we can join hands toward attainment of a mine-free world."

Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza said major landmine-producing countries should join the treaty because the mines can fall into the hands of rebel and other armed groups.

To date, 144 countries have ratified the Ottawa Convention but 41 countries have not.

Countries around the world have destroyed 62 million stockpiled mines, but 67 countries still have about 200 million mines in their stockpile, according to the 2004 Landmine Monitor.

Before the treaty to ban landmines came into force 51 countries were known to produce land mines.

The meeting ends on Friday. - Sapa-AP


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