(AP) -- Small developing countries are protesting calls by Russia and Japan to delay a global climate change agreement.
The 42-nation Association of Small Island States, countries most threatened by rising sea levels from melting polar ice caps, said an agreement should be concluded next year - an ambitious target in view of the deep differences that have plagued negotiations for years.
The dispute escalated three weeks before 195 parties convene in South Africa to negotiate less troublesome elements of a climate deal.
Negotiators from Japan and Russia have been quoted as saying an overall climate agreement by 2015 is unrealistic.
A statement from the island countries Thursday said that position was "environmentally reckless and politically irresponsible."
Explore further: National survey reveals coastal concerns over climate change