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Nations hold meeting to protect polar bears
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Northern nations have begun to hold talks in Norway for finding better ways to protect polar bears in a warming climate, according to reports reaching in Stockholm from Oslo on Tuesday.

Over Norway's objections, Polar Bears International (PBI) began taking part in the Polar Bear Range States Meeting in the Norwegian city Tromsoe. The three-day meeting involves the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Danish-held Greenland, all polar bear nations and regions, said PBI in a statement, adding that the meeting was focusing on ways to help the world's polar bears in a rapidly warming Arctic. This is the first time the territories have met since 1981.

"Climate change has taken over from hunting as the main threat to polar bears," Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim said at the meeting's opening ceremony. "We have to act to protect the ecosystem that polar bears are part of. Global warming has to be stopped if we want to succeed," he added.

"Our goal is to provide information and resources as needed. We anticipate a number of conservation challenges as the sea ice continues to melt," Amy Cutting, co-chair of PBI's Sustainability Alliance (PBSA), said in the statement.

PBI also pointed out that scientists predict two-thirds of the world's polar bears would vanish by 2050 if current warming trends continue. The Tromsoe meeting will serve as a prelude to the international climate change summit in the Danish capital Copenhagen in December 2009.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2009)

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