WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said late Wednesday it is still reviewing its policy on a treaty banning anti-personnel landmines, clarifying a previous statement indicating it would not sign the deal.


"The administration is committed to a comprehensive review of its landmine policy. That review is still on-going," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The review is going to take some time, given that it is the first review of our policy conducted since 2003," Kelly added.

"While our review is ongoing, our current policy remains in effect," Kelly said, referring to the policy of not joining the treaty.

However, Kelly said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's administration had completed the review and decided not to sign the treaty.

"We determined that we wouldn't be able to meet our national defense needs, nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention," he said.

The second conference reviewing the 1997 Ottawa Convention will be held from November 30 to December 4 in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Ottawa Convention bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines as well as their destruction.

Kelly said Wednesday that the administration "needed to make a key early decision on whether to send a US observer" to the review conference, pending the full review.

Washington is sending a team of observers to the meeting that will include experts from the Pentagon, the State Department, the Agency for International Development (AID), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Senator Patrick Leahy criticized the administration on Tuesday for deciding not to join the treaty.