Secretary of State Warren Christopher says population growth jeopardizes American security interests and was a major factor in upheavals in Rwanda, Somalia and Haiti.

He said Monday that when population grows too quickly, "it strains resources, it stunts economic growth, it generates disease, it spawns huge refugee flows, and ultimately it threatens our stability."He spoke at an international conference on population and development at the State Department.

Christopher said Rwanda had one of the highest population densities in the world until last summer when ethnic strife claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

He also noted that Somalia has one of the highest birth rates in the world and Haiti the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

"These population factors contribute fundamentally to the problems that all these countries share, and they undermine the ability of these countries to provide a better life for their citizens," Christopher said.

"Our policy absolutely has to be comprehensive because poverty, pollution and population are truly interlocking problems," he said.