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KOBE — Senior officials of several Northeast Asian nations began a three-day meeting Wednesday to promote environmental cooperation in the region.

The fifth such meeting organized by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific will take up institutional and financial arrangements to implement environmental projects in the region.

“With the 21st century nearly upon us, it is imperative that we further intensify concrete initiatives to translate Agenda 21 into practice,” Hirohisa Kurihara, the Environment Agency’s state secretary for the environment, said in the conference’s opening speech.

Agenda 21 is a series of action plans adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. ESCAP-sponsored meetings on the Northeast Asian environment started in 1993 as a followup to the Earth Summit.

Participants in the Kobe meeting include senior officials of China, South Korea, Russia, Mongolia and Japan. While North Korea is a member country, none of its officials were in attendance. Officials of the Asian Development Bank and U.N. Environment Program were also present.

Projects under Agenda 21 that have already been implemented include demonstration of coal-fired power plants that cause less air pollution and collection and analysis of pollution data.

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