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Uzbekistan: U.S. To Open Environmental Center

Washington, 22 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - The United States plans to open a regional environment center for Central Asia in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent this summer.

The U.S. State Department said in a report, released today on Earth Day, that it will be one of six regional centers worldwide and that six more are scheduled to be in operation next year.

The report says the Tashkent office will promote regional cooperation on water management in the Aral Sea basin.

The Aral has lost half its surface since 1960 and continues to shrink because river waters that once flowed into it have been diverted to irrigate crops.

According to the report, other U.S. environmental centers will be located in Nepal for South Asia, and in Thailand for Southeast Asia, as well as in the Carribean for Central America, and in Jordan for the Middle East.

In addition, the report says the United States will expand bilateral relations with Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and others to focus on environmental issues.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said today the United States will pursue five environmental priorities. She listed them as problems of climate change, toxic chemicals, species extinction, deforestation and marine degradation.

Albright made the statement at a press conference to introduce the 32-page report called "Environmental Diplomacy: The Environment and U.S. Foreign Policy."

It is the State Department's first annual report on the global environment and is to be issued every year on Earth Day.