Pranab asks World community to seriously address climate change

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Dhaka, Dec 1 (UNI) Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the international community should address the issue of climate change seriously and find ways to tackle its adverse impact on low-lying countries.

Addressing a press conference during his visit to the cyclone 'Sidr' affected areas in Bangladesh, Mr Mukherjee, responding to a question whether the country should be compensated for the devastation caused by the cyclone, said, ''I donot know about compensation, it may be very ideal, but who will compensate whom.'' He said since days of the Kyoto conference, they had been trying to impress upon industrialised countries to undertake the responsibility and fulfil their commitments made at the conference.

However, a number of countries had not yet fulfilled their commitment.

''So, we expressed our desire that we should be compensated because of these incidents for which we are not responsible,'' he added.

Informing that Orissa had experienced similar natural disaster in 1990, later followed by Tsunami in its southern region, he said low-lying areas near the coast would be vulnerable due to rise in the sea level which were likely to take place in future.

''This is an area where we shall have to work together,'' he said, adding that the forthcoming Bali conference on climate change would be able to find out some solutions to the problems.

Referring to international conferences on the issue, one sponsored by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and another by US President George W Bush, Mr Mukherjee said, ''The international community is aware of it but you will have to work out how to tackle the problem.'' Mr Mukherjee, who came here to express solidarity with Bangladesh battered by the cyclone, hoped resilient people of the country, with the help of the administration, would be able to overcome the current challenge with courage.

''I came here with a single purpose to express our solidarity with you, to tell you that you are not alone at this time of need, we are with you,'' said Mr Mukherjee, first minister from any SAARC country to visit the 'Sidr' hit Bangladesh.

He said the Indian government will immediately issue a notification to allow export of 5,00,000 tons of rice to Bangladesh which will be in addition to the export of 50,000 tons of rice to the country.

Regarding the country's proposal to construct ten villages ravaged by the cyclone, Mr Mukherjee said India would bear all expenses to construct the villages with schools, roads, electricity, embankments, adding that it would be a token of good gesture from India towards Bangladesh.

India had offered to provide helicopters for relief and rescue operation in Bangladesh. However, they were not required there, he said in responce to a question, adding Indian ships would soon come to Bangladesh with relief goods.

On the presence of US naval ship in the Bay of Bengal, Mr Mukherjee said it was for Bangladesh to decide or to comment.

''Who am I to comment?'' he reacted sharply.

Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty and other senior Indian officials were also present at the conference held at Hotel Radisson.

During his brief stay, Mr Mukherjee called on caretaker government chief advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed and Foreign Advisor Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury to discuss the relief and rehabilitation efforts as well as some bilateral issues like trade and passenger train service between Dhaka and Kolkata.

Mr Mukherjee left for New Delhi in the evening, sources said.


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