Leaders fail to yield breakthrough in climate talks

Hastily convened climate-change talks among key leaders including the US and Chinese presidents Sunday failed to yield a breakthrough ahead of a crunch meeting in Copenhagen, a US official said.

US President Barack Obama met with leaders including Hu Jintao of China and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who made a surprise visit to Singapore to join them on the sidelines of a 21-nation Asia-Pacific summit.

“There was an assessment by the leaders that it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally-binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days,” Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Froman told reporters.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mexican Prime Minister Felipe Calderon invited the leaders to a breakfast meeting on the final day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

“There was, I’d say, a general consensus of support for what prime minister Rasmussen laid out, which is ... ‘one agreement, two steps’ where Copenhagen would be the first step in a process towards an internationally legally binding agreement,” Froman said.

He said Rasmussen told the meeting that “in Copenhagen, he would seek to achieve a politically binding agreement that covered all the major elements of the negotiations, including mitigation, adaptation, technology, and finance”.

“I think there was widespread support among the leaders that it was important that Copenhagen be a success, that there would be the achievement of real, concrete progress in Copenhagen with operational impact,” he said.

At the meeting, Chinese president Hu expressed hope of “positive results” in Copenhagen and vowed his government was “ready to work together with all parties to achieve this goal,” said a Chinese government statement.

But Hu also repeated Beijing’s position that the developed world must bear the brunt of emissions cuts and provide technology and financial help to poor countries to try to mitigate climate change. - AFP

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