WASHINGTON, (January 30, 1997) -- "The United States continues to miss opportunities" in achieving an international ban on anti-personnel landmines, according to the Bishops' chief spokesman on international affairs.
Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark, who chairs the U.S. Catholic Conference's International Policy Committee, expressed his concerns this week in a letter to Samuel Berger, President Clinton's acting National Security Advisor. The Administration recently decided to pursue international negotiations under the umbrella of the United Nations rather than through a Canadian-led effort.
"While not without its weaknesses, full U.S. engagement in the Ottawa Process seemed to offer a reasonable opportunity for rapid progress on eliminating these weapons," Archbishop McCarrick wrote. "We hope that an early ban can be achieved through the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, but this will only be possible with strong, unambiguous and persistent U.S. leadership."
Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland, President of the U.S. Catholic Conference, wrote President Clinton on January 13, urging serious consideration of the Ottawa Process rather than the U.N. Conference which will include Russia and China and other countries opposed to a total ban.