Turkish parliament votes to remove mines from Syrian border

June 4, 2009 10:12

Turkey's Parliament approved on Thursday a bill to clear land mines from the country's border with Syria. Parliament voted 255-91 Thursday to pass the bill, which was contoversial because it could allow foreign companies to do the job in return for the right to farm the fertile land for up to 44 years. Opposition parties objected that the measure went against Turkey's national interests. The government agreed to give the priority for clearing the mines to the Defense Ministry or order the Finance Ministry to tender. If both options fail, a local or foreign company could be given the job in return for utilizing the land. Turkey, a NATO member and US ally, planted more than half a million mines along the 500-kilometer (310-mile) Syrian border in the 1950s to secure the frontier.

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