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U.S. Rebuffs Efforts To Revive Talks

December 19, 2000

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The United States and its supporters on Monday rebuffed the latest efforts to revive international talks on global warming, European Union officials said.

Officials at a meeting of EU environment ministers said the bloc comprised of the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand had rejected an invitation to meet with the Europeans this week in Oslo, Norway.

``There won’t be a meeting this week. They need more time,″ said Eva Nordvik, spokesman for the Norwegian Environment Ministry that had offered to host the talks.

The EU ministers, who spoke to their counterparts from the other group in conference calls from Brussels, are trying to restart talks aimed at cutting the gases blamed for pushing up world temperatures. The talks broke down last month in The Hague, Netherlands.

Officials at the U.S., Japanese and New Zealand missions to the EU would not immediately confirm that the European invitation had been rejected.

However, U.S. and Japanese officials had earlier said there was little point in attending unless the Europeans changed their position on how far nations should commit to reducing emissions from factories and vehicles.

``I am rather sad we have missed this window of opportunity,″ said British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, London’s chief negotiator at the talks. ``It was worth trying, unfortunately it didn’t work out. I think the gap was too wide.″

The Americans say countries should be allowed to count carbon dioxide absorbed by forests and farmlands toward their emissions-reduction targets. Europeans claim that is a loophole to evade commitments given in Kyoto, Japan, three years ago to reduce global emissions by 5.2 percent by 2010.

The two sides will next meet in January in Nairobi, Kenya, at a U.N. environmental meeting.

The Europeans are anxious to find the basis of a deal before the end of the year, believing it will be easier to strike a compromise with the outgoing Clinton administration than with the new government of President-elect Bush. Bush has voiced reservations about U.S. promises to help control global warming.

``The negotiating machinery changes when George Bush comes in, so that is why this window of opportunity is absolutely important to get some settlement now,″ Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told BBC radio Monday.

``If we don’t get an agreement, all will be losers, whether it is the Clinton regime or the Bush regime,″ he said.