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Environment ministers from Japan, China and South Korea have urged the United States to stay within the framework of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and strive to ratify the pact on curbing global warming.

In a joint communique issued Sunday after their two-day meeting in Tokyo, the ministers said they “sincerely hope that the U.S. government will actively work with all the parties” for a successful outcome to the U.N. climate-change conference and the implementation of the Kyoto accord.

The statement by Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, China’s State Environmental Protection Administration Minister Xie Zhenhua and South Korean Environment Minister Kim Myung Ja follows U.S. President George W. Bush’s recent decision to pull out of the Kyoto pact.

The 1997 Kyoto treaty obliges industrialized countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012 to avoid disastrous global weather changes.

The trio agreed the sixth Conference of Parties (COP6) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, scheduled to resume in Bonn in July, is “vital for bringing the Kyoto Protocol into force as early as possible.”

Talks at the previous COP6 round in The Hague in November collapsed when a dispute arose over the role of forest absorption in cutting gas emissions.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on Friday said Washington will propose by July, in time for COP6, an alternative plan to the Kyoto Protocol by seeking the participation of developing countries including India and China as well as the industrial nations.

Speaking to the press after the Tokyo meeting, Xie reiterated China’s stance that responsibilities differ between industrialized and developing countries in achieving reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Aside from global warming, the three ministers agreed to cooperate over ecological conservation in northwest China, which is suffering from severe desertification, and to promote systematic studies of sandstorms which have become an increasing problem in the northeast Asian region.

The ministers also reaffirmed their cooperation in dealing with such areas as acid rain, air pollution, water management, marine environment protection and wetland conservation.

The tripartite annual talks were the third of their kind. Next year’s meeting will be held in South Korea, Xie said.

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