Treaty is still within reach say Ministers

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Britain remains “fully committed” to working towards an international treaty to control the arms trade, despite the stalemate reached in negotiations in New York last week, Government ministers have said.

Consensus on a draft treaty was reached among the majority of the 170-plus countries taking part in talks over four weeks, but agreement was blocked when the USA and Russia said they needed to resolve outstanding issues.

In an open letter to campaign groups which have been calling for arms control, foreign minister Alistair Burt and international development minister Alan Duncan said they were “optimistic” that agreement can be reached.

The meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York in September will be the next opportunity to make progress, they said.

“We remain fully committed to taking this work forward urgently to secure the strongest and widest possible agreement as soon as this is feasible,” wrote Mr Burt and Mr Duncan.

“A period of reflection and consultation with key governments and stakeholders, including yourselves, is the first step.

“We firmly believe that an ATT (arms trade treaty) is coming and we will keep working until it is agreed. The human cost of the uncontrolled arms trade is too high not to.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague said last week that he was “disappointed” at the failure 
to achieve agreement on the 
draft text.