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World: Clinton Explains Land Mine Decision

Washington, 18 September 1997 (RFE/RL- President Bill Clinton says the United States has unique military responsibilties around the world that make it impossible for Washington to sign the international land mine ban announced in Norway yesterday.

In a televised statement, Clinton said he could not, in good conscience, sign the ban on anti-personnel mines because the treaty does not contain the exemptions that the U.S. sought.

Clinton says anti-personnel mines are still needed on the dividing line between communist North Korea and the U.S. and South Korean troops on the other side of what Clinton called the Cold War's last frontier. He says the U.S. and South Korea face more than one million North Korean troops, and he says the only way to slow down their advance in the event of attack is by using land mines.

Clinton also said the U.S. wanted an exemption for anti-tank mines, which are often protected by anti-personnel mines.

The president says it is his duty to do everything possible to protect U.S. military forces, and he says right now, that protection includes land mines.

Clinton says he supports the ban on mines, and he says the U.S. has already done much unilaterally to get rid of mines. He says the U.S. will continue to work for the elimination of mines, but he also says more time is needed to develop alternative technologies.