The 15th Meeting of the Technical Working Group and Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on transboundary haze pollution took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from July 15-17 to seek a solution for the problem.

Environment ministers from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand attended the meeting, discussing efforts, strategic cooperation measures to combat the current haze crisis, resulting from forest fires in Riau, Indonesia.

At the meeting, Indonesian Environment Minister Balthashar Kambuaya said that Indonesia will ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution by year-end or early next year.

He said the Indonesian Government has signed the agreement, but it will be discussed in the Parliament for a final decision.

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh said that the move showed the Indonesian Government is ready to mobilise available resources to put out fires and eradicate the haze problem.

Speaking to reporters after the joint press conference on July 17, the final day of the three-day meeting, Secretary-General Minh commended Indonesia's spirit of cooperation, saying that with this success, ASEAN are able to achieve the agreement.

He also urged continued vigilance on the possibility of a recurrence of the haze and ways to improve the system of monitoring while reminding countries concerned to be ready to train and educate the authorities and relevant bodies to prevent the haze situation.

Indonesia is the only member of ASEAN that has yet to ratify the group’s Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution brokered in 2002.

During the meeting, the ministers agreed to recommend adopting the haze monitoring system, with digitised land-use maps and concession maps on fire-prone areas that cause transboundary haze.

On concession map, the ASEAN Secretary-General said it was developed by Singapore and the publication of the map will be decided at the ASEAN Leaders' Summit in Brunei in October this year.-VNA