UN global arms treaty talks stalled

A gun hangs from truck door at US military base Kalsu on July 18, 2011 in Iskandariya, Babil Province Iraq. Negotiations over the arms treaty are expected to be fraught

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Talks at the United Nations aimed at creating a global treaty on the international arms treaty have stalled before they even began.

A dispute over the status of the Palestinian delegation delayed the official start of talks, which are now set to begin in New York on Tuesday.

Some reports suggest the delay may have been a stalling tactic.

Several EU countries have called for a quick agreement, but other states have major reservations about arms control.

Divisions at outset

The objection over the observer status of the Palestinian delegation is reported to have come from the Egyptians, one of several nations with qualms about the idea of a global arms treaty.

The initially sceptical US - the world's biggest arms exporter - now backs a treaty, but along with China, Syria and Egypt does not want to see ammunition included.

China wants to exempt small arms, and several Middle Eastern states oppose making compliance with human rights standards mandatory for those wishing to purchase arms.

But the majority of UN member states do want to see a treaty governing the global arms trade, estimated to be be worth $60-$70bn (£40-50bn) per year.

Some 750,000 people are killed by illicit weapons each year, and campaigners say conflicts like the one in Syria have made the advent of such a treaty even more urgent.

The opening of these negotiations on a treaty to establish common standards for the global trade comes after a six-year campaign by a coalition of non-governmental organisations, including Amnesty International and Oxfam.

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