Dublin Talks 'Decommission' Cluster Bombs

The ongoing, high profile conference on the stockpiling and use of cluster bombs in Dublin has confounded experts and activists alike by reaching an agreement to ban the use of cluster bombs.

The historic agreement at the Croke Park talks has won international praise for the efforts of the Irish government on the issue, in particular the work of Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern, and was described by Amnesty International as "amazing".

The Irish Red Cross has also welcomed the historic signing in Dublin of the humanitarian treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs, which was supported by more than 100 countries - but not the Unites States, Russia or China.

John Roycroft, Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, said the humanitarian commitment by all the delegates attending the Dublin conference was hugely significant.

He praised the initiative of the Irish Government in hosting the multi-national conference, which paved the way towards "a new, historic treaty that bans the use of cluster munitions".

Contrary to all expectations, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave the talks what turned out to be a critical boost - by supporting the ban of Britian's controversial M85 and M73 cluster munitions.

In a statement, the British PM said: "We will now work to encourage the widest possible international support for the new convention.

"I am delighted that the negotiations in Dublin have come to a successful conclusion, and congratulate the Irish government and all those involved. I am confident that this agreement is in line with British interests and values, and makes the world a safer place."

The British delegation further said it would be banning the stockpiling of the weapons on its shores by the US who are reported to have large caches of the bombs housed on British soil.

Mr Brown said: "In order to secure as strong a convention as possible in the last hours of negotiation we have issued instructions that we should support a ban on all cluster bombs, including those currently in service by the UK."

Mr Ahern said he was "personally delighted" the deal was done. "Survivors . . . have come to Dublin to bear witness to the effect of cluster munitions on them and their families. We owed it to them to adopt this treaty," he said.

The treaty is due to be signed in Oslo in December.

At present the United States, Russia, Israel, Pakistan, India and China continue to oppose the move.

Despite the conclusion of the main purpose of the talks, agreement is yet to be reached on the legal position of cooperation between countries signed up to the treaty and those still using the weapons.

See: Britain Accused Of Being 'Barrier' To Bomb Treaty

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