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SUVA, Fiji (September 24, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has appealed to the international community to agree to mandatory cutbacks in the emissions of "greenhouse gases," blamed for global warming.

The issue is critical to small Pacific island nations which fear that global warming will melt the polar ice caps, raise the sea level, and threaten their very existence.

Rabuka told delegates at the United Nations General Assembly that for economic growth to be sustainable, as well as beneficial and of quality, the environmental factor must be brought to the forefront in all countries' development efforts.

He said "there is still no clear commitment on the part of many developed countries to work towards achieving such environmental goals as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to internationally specified limits."

Rabuka said South Pacific island states were "among the most vulnerable" to climate change from global warming.

"It is therefore imperative that all members of the international community strive for a firm political commitment before the next Kyoto conference (on global warming to take place in December) to adopt a stronger protocol to strengthen the climate change convention," he said.

On another matter, Rabuka made an impassioned plea at the United Nations for member states to do much more for the development of the world's indigenous people.

The Fiji Prime Minister said it is a tragedy that the values and customs of indigenous people have been destroyed by what he called "incoming populations."

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