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Cambodia Seeks More Signatures on Landmine Ban

An unexploded land mine, right, lies in the field at a clearance site of land mines near the Cambodia-Thailand border, in Pailin province, once a Khmer Rouge stronghold in northwestern Cambodia, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Cambodia on Sunday is hosting a six-d

Cambodia is seeking more signatories to an international landmine treaty, as it hosts a weeklong international conference with nearly 100 countries represented in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia was one of the original supporters of the Ottawa Convention, which has garnered 158 supporter nations since 1999.

“If we do not accelerate the speed and the efficiency of the resolution of problems, we will not reach our final goal for a world free of mines,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the opening of the conference Sunday.

“I hope our other friends who are not yet members of the convention will join us in achieving this goal,” he said.

At least 10 countries who are not signatories to the convention—including China and the US—are participating in the conference. China is expected to address the gathering on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, landmines have killed an estimated 1 million people in the last 10 years. And they remain a major obstacle to development.

“In the countries emerging from conflicts, these weapons slow the repatriation of refugees… deprive communities of the productive and safe use of land and natural resources,” said Helen Clark, the international head of UNDP.