Representatives of over 100 countries and 50 international organisations gathered in Vientiane, Laos for a four-day conference of signatories of the cluster munitions convention starting from Nov. 9.

The Vietnamese delegation, headed by Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh attended the meeting in the capacity of observer.

At the opening ceremony, Lao President Choummali Sayasone stressed the importance of the first-ever meeting to the whole world, as it would put forwards directions and ways to implement the Oslo convention and highlight the efforts of Laos, the country worst affected by cluster bombs, in making contributions to popularizing the convention.

Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh affirmed Vietnam was willing to cooperate with foreign friends and international partners to promptly deal with the consequences of cluster munitions and unexploded ordnances as well as helping landmine victims.

He pointed to the fact that most of the affected countries lack resources for mine clearance and providing assistance to victims, while many countries producing and keeping cluster munitions have not yet responded to the convention.

According to the Deputy FM, Vietnam still has 1 million tonnes of landmines remaining after the war covering one fifth of the country’s area, which is hindering the country’s socio-economic development efforts and threatening people’s normal lives.

The country has developed a national plan for the 2010-2015 period for dealing with the consequences of landmines remaining after the war.

Several countries attending the meeting pledged to continue to support a mine clearance fund, jointly established by the Lao government and the UN Development Programme in July this year, to help Laos clear bombs and mines. The fund has mobilized more than 6.3 million USD.

The meeting approved important documents, including the Vientiane Statement and Vientiane Action Plan on the implementation of the Oslo convention.

The next meeting will be held in Lebanon./.