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Canada beats ban, destroys last mines

With the push of a button _ and a swipe at U.S. reluctance to sign a land mine ban _ Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams and Prime Minister Jean Chretien blew up the last of Canada's land mines Monday.

The detonation at a weapons testing range comes one month before delegates from about 100 nations are to sign a sweeping ban on anti-personnel mines at a meeting in Ottawa.

Williams' remarks were pointedly aimed at a notable holdout, her native United States.

"We have all of NATO except for the U.S. and Turkey. We have all of this hemisphere except the U.S. and Cuba," said Williams, who heads the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

She and the group, which helped lead a six-year campaign for a ban, won the Nobel Peace Prize last month.

To prove its commitment to the ban, Canada has destroyed nearly 100,000 land mines over the past two years. The roughly 100 mines detonated Monday were the last left except for mines being kept for instructional purposes.

Chretien and Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy have been lobbying intensively to enlist more support for the ban, and the nation's role in the campaign has garnered broad public support.

Some commentators, however, have noted it is easy for Canada to forswear mines because none of its troops are in a war zone.

This weekend, the Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, ran an editorial suggesting the government would do more good leading a campaign to combat common third-world diseases, which kill far more people than land mines.

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