Indonesia's President Yudhoyono formally apologizes to Singapore, Malaysia for smoky haze

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has apologized to Singapore and Malaysia for record-bad pollution caused by forest fires in his country.

Jakarta dispatched planes and helicopters last week to battle the fires in Riau province on Sumatra island, where the smoke easily drifts across the sea to the two neighboring countries.

Yudhoyono issued an official apology to the Singaporean and Malaysian people at a news conference. He asked for their understanding, and said Indonesia is responsible and working hard to fight the fires, which are often set by farmers to clear fields.

Malaysian declared a state of emergency Sunday in a district where the haze triggered one of the country's worst pollution levels, while Singapore has urged people to remain indoors due to "hazardous" levels of pollution.