The Maldives will convene a summit next month of countries suffering some of the worst impacts of climate change ahead of a global conference on the issue in Copenhagen, government officials said.

The low-lying island nation has become a leading voice on the issue of global warming, even staging an underwater Cabinet meeting this month to express concerns about rising sea levels.

Government officials said yesterday that the two-day conference starting November 9 is meant to forge a common position for some of the world's most vulnerable countries ahead of global talks in Copenhagen in December.

Those talks aim to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the first global agreement requiring modest reductions by industrialised countries in emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases widely believed responsible for changing the earth's climate.

Wealthy nations want broad emissions cuts from all countries, while poorer ones say industrialised countries should carry most of the burden.

"We have chosen island states and countries suffering from deforestation, glacial melting and desertification," said Ahmed Naseem, the Maldives state minister for foreign affairs.

The Maldives conference is expected to include Bangladesh, Barbados, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Kiribati, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Tuvalu and Vietnam.

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