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Maldives Cabinet Meets Below Waves to Highlight Climate Change Threat

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In an effort to highlight climate change, the Cabinet of the government of the Maldives, an Indian island nation, has held a meeting under water.

Meetings of government ministers can sometimes be a dry affair. That certainly was not the case during the latest gathering of the Cabinet of the Maldives.

President Mohamed Nasheed and 11 of his government ministers, plus the vice president and Cabinet secretary, donned scuba gear and plunged six meters below the shimmering turquoise surface of an Indian Ocean lagoon.

The Cabinet seated behind tables, amid a coral backdrop, used hand gestures to communicate.

The president is a certified diver but other Cabinet members had to take lessons in recent weeks to prepare for the unprecedented meeting.

One resolution was approved - a declaration calling for concerted global action on climate change ahead of a major United Nations conference on the subject scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

The ministers used waterproof markers to sign the document, printed on a white board.

President Nasheed, surfacing to speak with reporters, said he hopes his unusual Cabinet meeting will prompt global action.

"We want to see that everyone else is also occupied as much as we are [with climate change] and would like to see that people actually do something about it," he said. "If Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is not much of a chance for the rest of the world."

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The Maldives consists of nearly 1,200 coral islands. The land surface pokes just a couple of meters on average above sea level, making it the lowest-lying nation in the world.

It is feared that rising sea levels could submerge the country this century.

President Nasheed has previously announced plans to buy a new homeland for his country's 350,000 citizens if the Maldives does eventually disappear below the waves.