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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 January, 2005, 00:41 GMT
Row over tsunami warning system
UN official Margareta Wahlstrom at Thai disaster centre
Delegates have been seeing effects of the disaster at first hand
Representatives of over 50 countries and organisations have clashed over the location of a co-ordination centre for an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.

Thailand proposed that the centre should be in its capital, Bangkok, but was opposed by India and Indonesia.

They agreed to set up smaller regional facilities, in response to last month's tsunami which killed more than 250,000.

Thailand is hosting the two-day meeting for affected countries on the ravaged resort island of Phuket.

The representatives decided that work should start immediately on strengthening existing national and specialised institutions.

Correspondents say national egos appear to be getting in the way of international co-operation.

Decentralised network

Delegates at the meeting discussed where to base a centre for collecting seismic and oceanographical data from nations on the ocean rim and issuing alerts to vulnerable areas.

Bangkok's proposal to set up a regional trust fund, for which it pledged $10m, was given a cool reception.

India and Indonesia also said they wanted to host the centre.

But the participants reached a compromise, that a UN agency, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, should co-ordinate a decentralised network.

"We agree that the role of the United Nations is the most important in ensuring that all aspects in building an early warning system are co-ordinated effectively and timely," said Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, quoted by Reuters news agency.

"We agree to advance the establishment of such an arrangement through organisation of expert meetings and needs assessments, to be undertaken with the support of relevant regional and international institutions and governments."


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