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Updated: November 17, 2009 23:28 IST

U.S., China revive hopes of climate deal

Ananth Krishnan
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Chinese President Hu Jintao with U.S. President Barack Obama during an official welcoming dinner in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday November 17, 2009. Photo: AP
AP Chinese President Hu Jintao with U.S. President Barack Obama during an official welcoming dinner in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday November 17, 2009. Photo: AP

Hu, Obama for pact that will include binding reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries

The United States and China have lent their support to achieving a legally-binding agreement at the Copenhagen climate talks next month, reviving hopes of a deal being reached.

After talks between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, the two countries said in a joint statement they would support a deal that would include binding reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries, and “nationally appropriate” mitigation activities for developing countries.

“Our aim there... is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect,” Mr. Obama said.

Chances of reaching a deal that will impose binding emission targets appear to have receded in recent weeks. Lowering expectations, many countries have suggested that a political statement, and not a binding agreement, was the more likely outcome.

On Sunday, leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Singapore, including Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu, played down chances of a deal. But the two leaders on Tuesday struck a different note, voicing strong support for a “comprehensive” agreement that would “rally the world.”

In wide-ranging talks, the two countries called for “more stable and peaceful relations” in South Asia. Mr. Obama said neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan “can nor should be used as bases for terrorism.” The two countries said they would support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan.

The U.S. and China also agreed to work together to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, and to push Iran to show more transparency in its nuclear programme.

Mr. Obama reaffirmed his support for a “One China” policy, and said Tibet was a part of China. He called for the early resumption of talks between the Chinese government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama.

But long-standing differences between the two countries on trade issues appeared unresolved. Mr. Hu said he “stressed to President Obama” that the two countries “need to oppose and reject protectionism in all its manifestations in an even stronger stand.”

China has, in recent weeks, accused the U.S. of “abusive protectionism,” following a tit-for-tat of import duties between the two countries.

There was no mention of any change in China’s currency policies in the joint statement. The U.S. has been pressing for China to appreciate its yuan currency, saying it has been devalued by Beijing to support its exporters and has led to global trade imbalances.

The Obama Administration downplayed its failure to make headway on the two issues. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it did not expect “waters should part and everything would change over our almost two-and-a-half day trip to China.”

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