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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's sherpa community is sending a piece of rock from Mount Everest to U.S. President Barack Obama to underscore the impact of global warming on the Himalayas.
Environmental group WWF said Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal had promised to carry the "memento" and give it to Obama when world leaders meet in New York next week as "a symbol of the melting Himalayas in the wake of climate change."
Heads of state will attend a U.N. General Assembly meeting as well as hold talks on climate change in New York.
The rock was collected from the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) Mount Everest by Apa Sherpa, who climbed the mountain for a record 19th time in May.
Sherpas, mainly living in Nepal's Solukhumbhu district, home to the world's tallest peak, are known for their climbing skills.
A WWF-Nepal statement said more than 200,000 youth had also signed a petition to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanding action on global warming ahead of crucial climate talks in Copenhagen.
Negotiations on an accord to replace the Kyoto Protocol are scheduled to conclude at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital in December.
Experts say mountainous Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 tallest peaks, including Mount Everest, is vulnerable to climate change despite being responsible for only 0.025 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, among the world's lowest.
Average global temperatures are rising faster in the Himalayas compared to most other parts of the world, according to the Kathmandu-based International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Dean Yates