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March 23, 2017 13:19

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18:48 14 February 2017

Latin America to urge U.N. members to "actively" join nuke ban talks

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 14, Kyodo

Latin American countries plan to call on all U.N. member states to "actively" join talks for a treaty outlawing nuclear arms when they gather Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of a regional nuclear-weapons-free zone treaty, according to a draft document obtained Monday.

The call is likely to be included in a declaration to be adopted at a meeting in Mexico City of members to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which opened for signature in February 1967 and created the following year a nuke-free zone that has eventually covered all 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The meeting comes just ahead of the start of a U.N. conference in March to negotiate a first-ever nuclear weapons ban treaty, with nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states still divided over the issue.

In the abstract of the draft declaration obtained by Kyodo News, Latin America and the Caribbean countries criticize the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons as a violation of international law and a crime against humanity.

They also say that "a world free of nuclear weapons is fundamental" for peace, security and development, while calling for an "immediate action" by all U.N. member states to "actively participate in the U.N. conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination."

The draft declaration is apparently aimed at adding pressure on five traditional nuclear powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- in the hope they will also support the nuclear ban treaty negotiations.

Mexico has been among the countries that have strongly pursued the start of the negotiations. The U.N. General Assembly adopted in December a landmark resolution calling for the start of talks to prohibit nuclear weapons.

The resolution drew support from 113 countries, and 35 -- including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Japan -- voted against it, with 13 countries, including China, abstaining.

Japan remains vague about whether it would join the talks, reflecting its reliance on U.S. nuclear deterrence for protection. Tokyo nonetheless professes aspiration for a nuclear-free world as the only country to have been attacked with atomic bombs.

The first round of negotiations will be held from March 27 to 31 and the second from June 15 through July 7, both in New York.

The Treaty of Tlatelolco was the world's first agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons in a populated area, a move that emerged against the backdrop of the 1962 Cuban Crisis. It came into effect in April 1968.

==Kyodo

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