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. Indonesian Leader Calls For More Disaster Cooperation

Satellite images of the destruction caused by the 2004 Tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Apr 11, 2006
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday urged Asia-Pacific nations to deepen cooperation on disaster management after the 2004 tsunami catastrophe. "It is a fact of life that our region is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters," Yudhoyono said in a speech opening a meeting between Asian ministers and leaders from tiny Pacific nations.

"While the tsunami is now behind us, we must not forget our duty to save future generations from another terrible disaster. Let us therefore intensify regional collaboration on disaster management," he said.

The December 2004 tsunami left around 230,000 people dead, including some 170,000 in Indonesia's Aceh province.

The two-day meeting, part of the 62nd session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), is to discuss regional cooperation in infrastructure development.

Yudhoyono said the region also had to tackle ethnic and religious conflicts.

"Economic marginalization, social dislocation, globalization, religious orthodoxy, narrow nationalism -- all this will add greater urgency to the promotion of tolerance," he said.

"Development today is not just about poverty alleviation or about protecting the environment or about sustainability. Development in the 21st century is also about tolerance building," he said.

In recent years, Indonesia has been rocked by a series of deadly bombings blamed on Islamic extremists.

Present at the meeting were leaders fron tiny Pacific island nations, including Kiribati President Anote Tong, President Kessai Note of the Marshall Islands and Prime Minister Matie Toafa of Tuvalu.

Delegates were also to discuss trade liberalization, poverty reduction and the threat of a bird flu pandemic.

An intergovernmental agreement on a trans-Asian railway network linking 28 countries will be adopted on Tuesday.

Yudhoyono on Saturday urged the Asia-Pacific region to forge economic partnership to boost investments and empower small and medium businesses.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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