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U.S. seeks ban on export of mines


UNITED NATIONS -- The Clinton administration has asked more than 40 countries that produce land mines to ban exports of anti-personnel mines for three to five years, senior U.S. officials said yesterday.

Congress has agreed to extend a one-year ban on U.S. mine exports for three years, and the United Nations General Assembly is expected to give unanimous support to a nonbinding resolution calling for a global moratorium.

There are already 80 million to 100 million land mines sown around the world.

U.S. officials say that the inexpensive devices, which are hard to detect, are often scattered indiscriminately in areas where they become a major threat to civilians, complicating the task of furnishing aid to war victims and hindering the return of refugees.

According to a State Department report last summer, the use of mines has changed in recent decades, threatening civilians.

In contrast with World War II, when both sides laid "rigorously mapped minefields," the report said: "Mines are now generally laid without maps in areas designed to protect economic targets or to instill fear in opposition soldiers and civilians."

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