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PACBI-Arab states reject proposed UN eco-center for including Israel

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Haaretz | December 5, 2007

Arab states reject proposed UN eco-center for including Israel

Arab officials have rejected a United Nations proposal to set up a regional environmental training center in the Middle East because it would include Israel, a Saudi official said Wednesday.

Prince Turki bin Nasser, the Saudi official in charge of environmental affairs, said the UN should establish an Arab-only environment training center instead.

Arabs do not need training from Israel, Turki said following one-day discussions of Arab League nations' environment ministers in Cairo. He added the Arab governments would discuss the proposal further with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

It is unclear when the United Nations' environment program proposed the center. Its office in Cairo was closed after working hours Wednesday.

Arab officials met at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo and discussed environmental challenges the region faces due to climate changes. Among the 21 Arab countries and the Palestinians who are League members, only Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania have diplomatic relations with Israel.

During Wednesday discussions, Egypt's environment ministry warned of dangers of desertification in several Arab countries.

Levels of water scarcity in the Arab world is among the highest worldwide, the ministry stated. The decline of land productivity is threatening the population in the region and overpopulation is increasing pressures on the land's limited resources.

Desertification is the degradation of land in dry and arid regions that results from various climate changes, but mostly from damaging human activities. Today, the process is taking place much faster than before, usually because of e demands of population expansions on the land to grow crops and graze animals.

There is no region in the world whose people and their future suffer as much from desertification like the Arab world, the statement concluded.

Tunisian minister of environment, Nadhir Hamada, said at the gathering that the responsibility of Arab countries has doubled and urged them to make an effective joint effort to ensure a better future.

Posted on 05-12-2007

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