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Condoleezza Rice Conference for Landmine Action

Remarks for the National Conference for Landmine Action in Chicago, Illinois

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
October 6, 2005

Welcome to the National Conference for Land Mine Action. On behalf of President Bush, I thank you for your deep commitment to the noble cause of making the world safe from landmines. And I wish to express my special appreciation to the Chicago Coalition for Landmine Action for co-hosting this event with the Department of State.

Landmines and other abandoned weapons kill or maim thousands of innocent men, women and children each year. They also impede a nation's ability to recover from conflict.

Angola is a case in point. At the end of the civil war in 2002, over 70 percent of the roads were blocked by anti-tank landmines. These arteries are the country's economic lifeline. They are also the routes Angolans will take to vote in the elections next year. We are working hard with our NGO partners and the international community to ensure that the roads are cleared so that Angolan citizens need not risk life and limb to cast their ballots and build their democratic future.

Fortunately, the situation in Angola and many other countries is improving through the combined efforts of governments and private citizens like you. In recent years, the number of civilian casualties from landmine accidents has been cut in half and valuable land has been cleared, allowing people to live normal, productive lives.

But there is still much to be done.

The American people can be proud that the United States remains the world's largest donor to mine action. Fulfilling his pledge, President Bush increased the State Department's Fiscal Year 2005 funding for humanitarian mine action by 50 percent above the Fiscal Year 2003 level.

The Department of State looks forward to working closely with all of you. You exemplify the generosity and compassion of the American people. The public-private partnership we are forging will bring new energy, ideas, and resources to global mine action. I have no doubt that this conference will prove to be an outstanding example of how governments and private citizens can work together to save lives and livelihoods from the devastating effects of landmines and other deadly remnants of war.

Thank you for your humanitarian service.

2005/957

Released on October 17, 2005

ENDS


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