07:27 17 February 2017
Nuke ban treaty prep meeting held at U.N.
NEW YORK, Feb. 16, Kyodo
The first preparatory meeting for negotiations on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons took place at the United Nations on Thursday, with agreement reached to start discussing in March the scope of the envisioned ban.
At the gathering, Elayne Whyte Gomez, Costa Rican ambassador to the U.N. Office and other international organizations in Geneva, was elected to chair the talks.
"I invite you to provide proposals and engage in a productive dialogue at this conference, which is a historic milestone in the long struggle of the U.N. to arrive at a nuclear-free world," she said, referring to the upcoming talks.
The meeting marked a first step in carrying out the mandate of two straight rounds of talks in accordance with a landmark resolution endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 23.
The first round of negotiations will run from March 27 to 31, with the second taking place from June 15 through July 7. Both sessions will be held in New York.
Of the five major states possessing nuclear weapons, the United States, Britain, France and Russia are vehemently opposed to the treaty, while China is thinking of joining the talks.
Mexico and Austria have been among the countries that have strongly pursued the start of negotiations, urging Japan and North Atlantic Treaty Organization member states to join the talks.
Japan remains vague about whether it will join the talks, reflecting its reliance on the U.S. nuclear deterrence for protection. Tokyo nonetheless says it aspires to a nuclear-weapon-free world as the only country to have been attacked with atomic bombs.