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UN Talks Fail to Produce Arms Trade Treaty

U.N. negotiations failed Friday to establish the first international treaty meant to regulate the multi-billion-dollar arms trade. Instead, the U.N. members opted for further talks.

Some member nations blamed the United States for halting an agreement at the end of the month-long negotiations in New York. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement that while the U.S. had wanted to conclude the negotiations with a treaty, “more time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “disappointed” the member states failed to clinch an agreement after years of preparatory work and four weeks of negotiations, calling it a “setback.” But, he said he was encouraged that nations have agreed to continue pursuing a treaty, and he pledged his “robust “ support.

Scott Stedjan, a senior policy advisor at Oxfam America, which fights poverty and other injustices, blamed the impasse on a lack of “political courage” on the part of U.S. President Barack Obama.

In 2009, the Obama administration announced it would support the treaty, reversing the Bush administration’s position on the issue. But, U.S. officials say Washington has insisted on having the ability to veto what they called a weak treaty, wanting to protect its citizens’ constitutional right to bear arms.

That right has been put in the national spotlight in the U.S. after a gunman opened fire in a movie theater a week ago, killing 12 people and wounding dozens.
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