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US, EU resume talks on climate change

world Updated: Nov 04, 2009 08:32 IST
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The US and European Union resumed talks on climate change on Tuesday as they intensify efforts to reach an accord ahead of next month's UN summit in Copenhagen, expressing confidence a pact could be reached.

US President Barack Obama said the discussions focused "extensively" on reaching a deal to reduce greenhouse gases by 2020. Obama has accepted the goals for reducing global warming but has come under increasing pressure from the European Union to do more.

While the two sides remain far apart they are still optimistic a deal can be reached at the Copenhagen conference Dec 7-18.

"I am more confident now than I was some days before," Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, told reporters.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also participated in the meeting.

Other issues on the agenda were the war in Afghanistan, curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions, the economic recovery, trade and the Middle East peace process.

The United States has been criticized by the EU and other countries for failing to commit to curbs on its greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming. Obama has been reluctant to agree to a strong global climate treaty without the backing of

Congress, where Obama's fellow Democrats are struggling to pass a pollution-curbing bill.

"We are confident that if all countries involved recognize this is a unique opportunity, that we can get an important deal done," Obama said during a separate meeting with Reinfeldt on Monday.

The United Nations hopes governments will agree to a new treaty that can replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The US-EU talks will continue on Wednesday.

The US Senate last week began considering a bill that would force US companies to cut their climate-damaging emissions, but even administration officials have acknowledged that a bill is unlikely to reach Obama's desk in time for the Copenhagen talks.

By contrast, the EU's 27 member countries on Friday reached a compromise on how much money to offer developing countries to fight climate change, a key stumbling block for a global treaty. Obama has not said how much the US is willing to contribute.

The EU's 27 national leaders endorsed estimates by the European Commission, the EU's executive, that rich nations will have to offer developing countries around 100 billion euros ($147 billion) per year by 2020.