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Climate Change, Fiji, Top Pacific Forum Agenda

Leaders of South Pacific island nations say the effects of global warming are now indisputable and are causing havoc in a region where nations are already struggling economically.

The leaders are gathered in the tiny island nation of Nieu for the 39th Pacific Islands Forum which opened Tuesday.

Forum Chairman and Niue Prime Minister Toke Talagi told the group that rising sea levels and the increased frequency of severe storms are evidence that global warming is no longer just a scientific theory. He says immediate help is needed for those already effected by global warming.

Also at the forum Wednesday leaders are considering action against Fiji's military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who boycotted this year's meeting.

At last year's meeting, Commodore Bainimarama had promised elections by March 2009. He has since postponed those elections, saying election reforms could not be implemented in time.

Commodore Bainimarama took power in a bloodless coup in December 2006. He imposed what he called a temporary military rule, promising to restore civilian democracy.

Also at the meeting, in a message to the forum on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced plans for an Inter-agency Climate Change Center to help coordinate support for Pacific Island nations in combating the effects of global warming.

The 16-member nation Pacific Islands Forum, formerly the South Pacific Forum, was founded in 1971. Leaders meet annually to develop collective responses to regional issues.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.