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46 Nations Agree to Seek Cluster Bomb Ban by 2008


46 of 49 countries attending a conference in Norway on cluster bombs have agreed to seek a ban on the controversial munitions by 2008.

Only Japan, Poland and Romania refused to sign the final declaration Friday. Some key nations, such as China, Russia, Israel and the United States, did not attend the two-day conference in Oslo.

Cluster bombs explode in mid-air and scatter smaller explosive packets over a large area. Many of these smaller bombs do not explode on impact and can remain a threat to civilians long after the conflict.

Israel used U.S.-made cluster bombs during the fight against Hezbollah in Lebanon last year.

Opponents of the ban say the use of cluster bombs is already covered under a 1980 United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Norway has taken the lead in efforts for a worldwide ban. Norway and Canada were instrumental in negotiating a 1997 treaty banning landmines. A group leading the anti-landmine efforts later won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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