Clinton to address biological weapons conference

5th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will this week seek to rally international efforts against the biological weapons threat at a key meeting in Geneva.

Representatives from 165 countries gathered on Monday for a three-week review of the Biological Weapons Convention, a 1975 treaty outlawing their production and use.

Clinton, currently on a European tour, will urge member states to look for ways to strengthen the implementation of the convention when she delivers the United States' opening address on Wednesday, the White House said in a note.

The most high-profile delegate at the Seventh Review Conference, Clinton will also call for a working group to make the BWC "a more robust forum" for helping prevent disease outbreaks, whether natural, deliberate or accidental.

"The Secretary will deliver the US national statement at the Biological and Toxin Weapons Review Conference, where we hope to revitalize international efforts against biological threats," a State Department note said.

Conference secretary general Richard Lennane said ahead of Clinton's visit: "It's a reflection of how seriously the US treats the convention. It needs serious attention at the highest levels."

The meeting takes place every five years and will see signatory states consider updating the convention and discuss the implications of scientific and technological developments.

The debate began on Monday with speeches by representatives from several countries including Britain, China, France, Germany and India, organisers said.

"There was a range of views but quite a lot of common ground and certainly no sharp disagreements at this stage. It's an encouraging start," said Lennane.

The conference runs to December 22.

© 2011 AFP

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