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U.S. Signs Landmark UN Arms Trade Treaty

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (file photo)
The United States, the world's largest exporter of conventional weapons, has signed the international Arms Trade Treaty.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the global pact in a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York on September 25.

"This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors. This is about reducing the risk of international transfers of conventional arms that will be used to carry out the world's worst crimes. This is about keeping Americans safe and keeping America strong. And this is about promoting international peace and global security. And this is about advancing important humanitarian goals," Kerry said after the signing.

"This treaty will not diminish anyone's freedom. In fact, the treaty recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes."

U.S. accession is seen as key for the success of the treaty regulating the multibillion annual trade in conventional arms.

Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International, has said that the U.S. accession is "a milestone towards ending the flow of conventional arms that fuel atrocities and abuse."

The U.S. Congress must still ratify it.

The treaty, adopted by the UN General Assembly earlier this year, has been signed by 89 countries.

It will enter into force after 50 countries have ratified it. So far, just five have done so.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa