South Korea delivers public concerns over fine dust to China at ministerial talks

SEOUL-- South Korea's environment minister relayed public concerns about fine dust blowing in from China to his Chinese counterpart during their meeting Monday to discuss ways to cooperate in coping with air pollution.

Minister Cho Myung-rae held talks with Chinese Environment Minister Li Ganjie in Seoul and signed an action plan for a joint cooperative environment project between the two countries.

The project calls for both nations to exchange technology and personnel and cooperate to curb the fallout of air pollution.

The meeting was first held since the environment ministers of the two nations agreed in February to hold high-level policy consultations annually.

"I've delivered to Li the Korean people's concerns about fine dust that comes from China. I called for China's cooperation in sharing information about fine dust and making joint efforts to reduce it," Cho told a press briefing.

Cho said Li did not give an immediate answer, but proposed efforts for bilateral cooperation in reducing particulate matter.

In March, South Korea designated fine dust as a social disaster as the intensity and frequency of the air pollution has increased in recent years.

The urgency for international cooperation is important as a large portion of the fine dust is believed to blow in from China. Exhaust gas emitted by diesel-fueled cars is also blamed for increasing fine dust.

International cooperation was a major theme of a forum on air pollution and climate change held earlier in the day.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon voiced the need for "active" international cooperation in tackling fine dust, saying air pollution transcends national boundaries.

Lee also expressed hope that South Korea, China and Japan could vibrantly work together for policy and technology cooperation on fine dust.

"Given atmospheric flows transcends national boundaries, it is natural to seek transnational responses. It is time for the international community to actively cooperate (to cope with the air pollution)," Lee said during his speech at the opening ceremony of the forum.

The prime minister also held a separate meeting with Li later in the day and stressed the importance of cooperation between South Korea and China to fight air pollution.

The National Council on Climate and Air Quality, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, earlier proposed measures to cut South Korea's fine dust by up to 20 percent later this year.

Ban, chief of the climate council, called for responsible actions to let the future generation breathe clean air.

"We are victims of air pollution and climate change, but we should not forget that we are also perpetrators," he said at an opening speech.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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