Jul 7 Jakarta moves to ratify Asean haze pact

Jul 7 Jakarta moves to ratify Asean haze pact
Workers from a palm oil concession firm trying to put out a forest fire in Riau's Kampar district last month. Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya said it is important for Indonesia to ratify the regional pact, as a nation that's affected by haze and concerned with the well-being of others.

JAKARTA - Indonesia's government has begun preparations to ratify a regional agreement on combating the haze, Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya said.

Dr Balthasar told reporters at a climate change conference on Thursday that the documents for ratification had been cleared by the Law Ministry.

The next step is for the State Secretariat to get agreement from affected ministries, before taking it to Parliament. "We hope it will be completed this year," said Dr Balthasar.

"It is important for us to ratify it, as a nation that's affected (by haze) and concerned with the well-being of others. And if there are things we need to do together, we should."

He said that claims by MPs that the pact would infringe Indonesian sovereignty were not true, saying Indonesia would be in full control of activities and assistance efforts on its soil.

Similar claims stymied previous attempts to approve the 2002 ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, but Indonesia - the only country yet to do so - made a commitment at the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Brunei to ratify the pact as soon as possible.

"The points in the (agreement) respect that sovereignty. That is very clear," Dr Balthasar added.

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