U.S. willing to make deal on mines Officials would sign treaty in exchange for time XTC


WASHINGTON -- In a major change in policy, the Clinton administration told its allies this weekend that it could sign a treaty banning anti-personnel land mines under a compromise that would allow it nine additional years before it begins to remove mines on the Korean peninsula, senior administration officials said yesterday.

Until yesterday, the United States had said it could not sign any treaty that limited its ability to use anti-personnel mines to defend South Korea from an attack from the North. But Washington has been under strong political pressure from many allies to change that stance so that the first international treaty requiring signing nations to stop deploying mines -- and to clean up those in the ground within 10 years -- would also include the world's largest military power.

The political pressure grew, officials acknowledged, after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, drew broader attention to the land-mine treaty, whose cause she had taken up.

With negotiations in Oslo, Norway, entering their final hours, the United States insists on two significant modifications to the treaty. It is far from clear that the roughly 100 nations taking part in the talks will agree to those changes.

The first modification, which a senior administration official conceded last night was encountering strong resistance, would permit the United States to deploy, in times of conflict, anti-tank mines that are ringed by anti-personnel mines to keep enemy soldiers from removing or destroying the anti-tank mines.

The administration is also insisting, officials said yesterday, that the treaty include a clause that would allow countries to withdraw from the accord if they are victims of aggression, after a six-month waiting period.

Pub Date: 9/15/97

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