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The U.S. announced on Tuesday that it will halt its use of anti-personnel landmines with one major exception – their ongoing deployment on the Korean peninsula.

Officials had said in June that in accordance with the 1999 Ottawa Convention, the U.S. would stop producing or acquiring "anti-personnel munitions," and they characterized Tuesday's announcement as another step in that process.

As part of the change, the U.S. also will not assist or encourage other nations in the deployment of deadly landmines and would destroy all landmines "not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea."

More than 160 countries had already signed onto the anti-landmine agreement on humanitarian grounds, but the U.S. had previously withheld its support. Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, cited "the unique circumstances" of its decades-long commitment to Korean security as a reason for the exception.

Even as we take these further steps, the unique circumstances on the Korean Peninsula and our commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea preclude us from changing our anti-personnel landmine policy there at this time.  We will continue our diligent efforts to pursue solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow us to accede to the Ottawa Convention while ensuring our ability to meet our alliance commitments to the Republic of Korea."

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