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June 20, 2007

SE Asian ministers boost coordination to reduce forest fire
Southeast Asian environment ministers vowed on Thursday to coordinate and make better preparation to face the possibility of forest fire in the region, Indonesian Environment Minister Rahmat Witoelar said in Jakarta.

Minister Witoelar made the remarks after a meeting at Sumatra island with his counterparts from Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand which aimed at reducing the smoke from forest fire spreading to the region.

"We coordinate to conduct a better preparation to anticipate the possibility of forest fire," he told Xinhua.

The smoke from fires on Sumatra and Borneo islands enveloped Southeast Asia region for a month last year, drawing criticism from neighboring countries.

The fires were believed to be resulted from land clearing for opening new plantation, which many of them were owned by Singaporean and Malaysian firms.

The minister said the each ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member country had its own strategy to stop forest fire, the meeting aimed at harmonizing the strategies.

"We discuss to prepare the technical act, coordination, and harmonizing our strategies," he said.

The minister said the meeting also agreed on an action plan which includes asking farmers not to engage land clearing practices. Xinhua


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