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World is moving towards getting rid of landmines: Kerry

09 december 2014, 13:42

 US Secretary of State John Kerry Monday vowed the world was on its way towards getting rid of the scourge of landmines, backed by major US efforts over the past decades, AFP reports.

Even though America is not a signatory of the Convention to ban landmines, "the United States, we can proudly say, has played a very important role in this," Kerry said, unveiling the 2014 report detailing the work done by the State Department's bureau of political-military affairs.

"Since 1993, we have been a leading contributor to the international demining efforts, providing more than $2.3 billion in assistance to over 90 countries in order to deal with this," Kerry said.

The top US diplomat said he could remember the devastating impact of landmines on people's lives from when he served as a naval officer in Vietnam.

"I learned something about the insidious nature about these instruments of battle," Kerry said.

"But what makes landmines a humanitarian concern for all of us now is that they plague innocent men, women and particularly children, decades after soldiers laid down their weapons and leaders made peace."

US efforts around the world have helped 15 countries declare themselves mine-free, cleared minefields so that preschools can be built in Sri Lanka, and restored back to health killing fields in rural areas such as in Angola.

"Americans should be proud of these accomplishments because we have played a key role in bringing them about... we have made a measurable difference in the lives of millions of people," Kerry said.

"Fifty-three years ago President Kennedy set for our nation the goal of sending a man to walk on the moon. We did that. Today we reaffirm our resolve to help all people everywhere to be able to walk safely right here on Earth," he added.

"I’m confident that with your good help, we will rid this planet of landmines."

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