US urges ASEAN armies to prepare for more natural disasters

US urges ASEAN armies to prepare for more natural disasters

HONOLULU - US officials on Wednesday offered to help ASEAN countries prepare for the devastating effects of climate change, urging stronger cooperation among armies and emergency agencies.

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel and other top officials discussed the danger posed by rising global temperatures with ASEAN defence ministers in Honolulu, home to a major US weather research centre that tracks sea levels and tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean.

"The more we can understand the science behind these natural disasters the more we can coordinate and communicate our efforts to help each other," Hagel told his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Hagel said that cooperation among ASEAN militaries for humanitarian operations was steadily growing but that more collaboration was needed, as scientists predict more typhoons and other natural disasters will hit the region.

"We can do more. We will do more," Hagel said.

The head of the US Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah, told the ministers that a report this week from a UN expert panel on climate change made clear that erratic weather would "wreak havoc on societies all around the world."

"What that report also highlighted is that the Asia-Pacific is hit by more than 70 per cent of all of these natural disasters," Shah said. "And so you bear a greater brunt of the burden of those consequences."

Shah said governments had to collaborate and rehearse for typhoons, flooding and other "extreme weather events" that are expected to become more frequent in coming decades.

The United States was "fully committed to working with and supporting you in this effort," he said.

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