Paul McCartney pushed for the worldwide eradication of land mines during a meeting yesterday (April 19) with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington, D.C., but evidently made no headway on

Paul McCartney pushed for the worldwide eradication of land mines during a meeting yesterday (April 19) with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington, D.C., but evidently made no headway on a ban. The United States, which has declined to sign a 139-country treaty outlawing land mines, has a stockpile of the weapons estimated at 11 million. "We still have some concerns about the convention." Powell said. But, he added, "There are many areas in which we can cooperate."

The former Beatle was in th e U.S. capital with his girlfriend, Heather Mills, who spearheads a charity campaign that provides limbs for victims of wars around the globe. Mills' left leg was amputated below the knee in 1993 after a road accident.

"We had a really good meeting. Gen eral Powell was very helpful," McCartney said outside the State Department after the meeting. According to the musician, Powell "expressed his support for Adopt-A-Minefield, which is hoping to clear all the mines in the world and to allow people to go bac k to their fields and their towns and get on with life."

The U.S.-based Adopt-A-Minefield organization buys minefields for $25,000 a plot and clears them.

McCartney said the meeting with Powell was the start of a worldwide campaign to raise awareness of the horrors of land mines and to urge people to push their governments to support a ban.

The 1997 treaty prohibits the stockpiling of mines and requires each nation to destroy its stock within four years. Former President Clinton decided after long delib eration that land mines were a necessary deterrent that protected South Korea from the North. Thousands of mines lie in the demilitarized zone between the two countries. Clinton suggested the United States would be willing to sign the treaty by 2006 if ar med forces could find alternatives to the mines.

The Bush administration has similar reservations. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said "unique circumstances" caused the United States not to join the convention. These, he said, involved a n eed for mines on the Korean peninsula. But he added the United States has contributed more than $500 million in the past eight years to programs to eliminate mines in 35 countries.

As previously reported, next month will see the release of "Wingspan" (Capitol), a double-CD of material recorded by his post-Beatles band Wings. Along with the "Wingspan" CD set, a similarly titled television special is set to air in May on ABC. The artist reiterated yesterday that a new solo album is planned for September.

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