Britain's government says clearing land mines from Falklands is feasible (UNITED KINGDOM)

Clearing the tens of thousands of land mines still blighting the disputed Falklands Islands is feasible, Britain's government said Tuesday, although it warned that the operation would be challenging and expensive.


U.S.A., 29 January 2008 (Associated Press Newswires)--

Britain faces a 2009 deadline to clear all land mines on its territories, but the government has blamed complicated negotiations with Argentina, which claims the South Atlantic islands as its own, for its failure to clear the devices there.

"The time it has taken to get to this stage is because we have been working alongside the Argentinian people on this," Baroness Crawley, a spokeswoman for Britain's ruling Labour party, told the House of Lords. "That has meant the negotiations on the de-mining have been detailed, complex and extensive. However we have got to a place now where hopefully we will be looking very seriously at the next steps."

She said a feasibility study carried out with Argentina showed that clearing all the land mines would be "challenging but technically possible."
Britain is a party to the 1997 Ottawa Convention against land mines, which stipulates that signatories must remove all mines from areas under their control within 10 years of the treaty's entry into force. Britain, which ratified the deal in 1998, has given itself until March 1, 2009, to clear the weapons, although the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said last year Britain was unlikely to meet its deadline.

The campaign puts the number of land mines in the Falklands -- known to Argentines as las Malvinas -- at about 16,000.

Von: The Associated Press, 29.01.2008

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