Fri, Sep 09, 2005 - Page 2 News List

President vows to remove mines

BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) yesterday signed an anti-landmine statement, pledging that the government stood firmly against the use of landmines while standing in favor of defending human rights.

The statement was sponsored by the Eden Foundation, Taiwan.

Lin Chin-chuan (林錦川), deputy executive director of the foundation, urged the government to enact a law to prevent the usage of anti-personnel landmines, in a move that would bring Taiwan in line with international practice.

As Taiwan is not a member of the UN, it is not allowed to sign the Mine Ban Treaty, the international agreement that bans anti-personnel landmines, Lin said.

"So as not to be absent from such an international campaign, the Eden Foundation joined the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) as a non-government organization and sponsored the statement in a bid to serve the international community," Lin said.

The president and foreign minister signed the statement while receiving Miss Wheelchair America Kristen Connors and Miss Wheelchair Eden Foundation of 2004, Chen Mei-yu (陳美玉) at the Presidential Office.

President Chen lauded Connors and Chen Mei-yu for their courage and perseverance in dedicating themselves to the anti-landmine campaign and overcoming any obstacles they might face.

According to UN estimates, about 110 million landmines still exist in the world, with more than 100,000 of them located in the Kinmen and Matsu island groups.

"I give 100 percent support toward clearing the landmines from Kinmen and Matsu, which is the government's ultimate responsibility," President Chen said.

"Although it might take a lot of time and expense to clear them away, the government won't stand in the way of carrying out this task, as it is of concern to world peace and the basic human rights of the nation's people," he said.

As Taiwan has always advocated resolving problems through peaceful means, it definitely supports the clearing of landmines so that innocent people will not be harmed, the president said.

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