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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 06:00 GMT
Asian states sign key energy deal
Air pollution from a factory in north-eastern China
Pollution problems are a major concern in Asia
Leaders at an East Asian summit have signed an agreement to promote energy security and find alternatives to conventional fuels.

The agreement was signed by 10 South East Asian nations, China, Japan, New Zealand, India, S Korea and Australia.

The agreement rounds off a week of talks in the Philippine resort of Cebu, looking at issues as diverse as natural disasters, disease and terrorism.

It also saw an improvement in relations between rivals China and Japan.

The Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security, signed after a three-hour meeting on Monday, lists a series of goals aimed at providing "reliable, adequate and affordable" energy supplies to a huge region from Australia to India.

The document does not set any targets for capping greenhouse emissions, but will call for extra investment in eco-friendly fuels.

There are also plans to construct a regional electricity grid and a natural gas pipeline across South East Asia.

Correspondents say the 16 nations that signed the agreement are attempting to lessen their dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Greenhouse gas emissions from Asian nations are forecast to grow rapidly in the coming years, with one estimate saying they could treble by 2025.

Improved ties

The pan-Asian deal comes at the end of a regional South East Asian summit also held in Cebu.

The summit was marked by an improvement in relations between regional rivals China and Japan, and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is now scheduled to travel to Japan in April.

Also at the summit Japan, China and South Korea held their first three-way meeting in two years.

Leaders of the three countries presented a united front against North Korea, urging Pyongyang to end its nuclear programme and seek a stronger trading relationship with its neighbours.




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