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China, Japan, S.Korea Agree to Jointly Tackle Sandstorms
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The environment ministers of China, Japan and South Korea have agreed on the need to train personnel and share monitoring data as part of efforts to tackle sandstorms that affect all three countries, according to a joint communiqué issued by the ministers on Sunday.


The document was issued at the end of two days of talks in Beijing among Zhou Shengxian, head of China's State Environmental Protection Administration, Japanese Environment Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi and South Korean Environment Minister Lee Chi Beom.


"The ministers recognized that dust and sandstorm in Northeast Asia was posing common concerns for countries in this region," the communiqué said.


"They recognized the necessity of capacity building and monitoring data sharing in order to promote a monitoring network in the Northeast Asia region," it said.


Springtime sandstorms originate in arid and semiarid areas of northwest China and Mongolia, sometimes blowing as far as Japan.


In recent years, the sandstorms have been occurring more frequently and become more intense, partly due to degradation of land from overgrazing, deforestation, excessive cultivation, poor water resource management, population growth and the rapid spread of urbanization.


The ministers also agreed to exchange information over air pollution, saying that acid deposition continues to be a serious problem in the region, as well as over water conservation, according to the document.


(CRI December 4, 2006)

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