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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Conference Aims for Total Ban On Land Mines by Year's End

OSLO, Norway -- In a drive to rid the world of antipersonnel mines, which are more likely to kill children than soldiers, more than 100 nations on Monday opened a conference aiming for a total ban on the weapon.

Some 400 delegates were likely to recall the efforts of Princess Diana, whose tragic death in a car accident Sunday cut short her personal efforts to see the weapons banned.

The three weeks of talks in Oslo continue a process started in Canada, known as "the Ottawa Process." The talks were expected to be tough, with the United States likely to call for exceptions, such as on the Korean Peninsula.

Even the Nordic countries appear split on how strong a treaty should be. Finland, which shares a 1,270-kilometer border with Russia, says land mines are an integral part of its defense.

"Our greatest concern is that the treaty will be undermined by various proposals," Jody Williams, an American working for the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, said before the meeting opened.

About 110 million antipersonnel mines are hidden below the earth's surface, ready to tear apart unsuspecting people who set them off. By the end of conference, backers hope to have drafted a treaty on banning the production, sale or use of such mines.

The Ottawa Process led to an anti-land-mine declaration signed by 98 nations in Brussels in June. Three more countries, the United States, Australia and Poland, have since joined the process.

The aim of the Oslo meeting, which is scheduled to end Sept. 19, is to prepare for a treaty by the end of the year.

On Aug. 18, U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration agreed to join the Ottawa Process, but wants Korea excluded from the ban. Communist North Korea is separated from the capitalist south by a heavily mined border.