G8 summit could see climatechange breakthrough: Chirac

4th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

SVETLOGORSK, Russia, July 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Sunday hailed a possible breakthrough on climate change at this week's G8 summit talks in Scotland after meeting with his Russian counterpart and Germany's chancellor.

SVETLOGORSK, Russia, July 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Sunday hailed a possible breakthrough on climate change at this week's G8 summit talks in Scotland after meeting with his Russian counterpart and Germany's chancellor.

The informal talks in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which was marking its 750th anniversary, also took in the situation in Iran, Germany's bid for a UN Security Council seat and recent developments in Central Asia, though it was on climate change that the three leaders appeared to make most headway.

"We had difficult discussions and it seems, I sincerely hope, that we are heading for an agreement," Chirac told a joint press conference following one of a series of scheduled meetings with Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder.

"We are waiting to know the American position, which was... far more moderate, or less demanding than ours. I hope we can find a sufficiently clear, firm agreement in this field," the French president said.

Climate change and aid to Africa will be the two key themes at the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland from Wednesday through Friday, with France among the states lobbying for a reference to the Kyoto treaty in the final declaration.

The United States is the only G8 member not to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which sets targets on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions held responsible for global warming.

"I am hopeful, given the current state of affairs and discussions, that we will manage to reach an agreement," said Chirac, who hinted last week he was "not optimistic" but determined to secure a deal on climate change.

The British press on Sunday was more positive that US President George W. Bush could sign an agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"With George Bush we are hoping he will sign up to a statement like 'climate change is a reality and we must look to find ways out of the problem by employing new technologies'," a senior British government source told The Sunday Times.

"We think Bush will basically swallow it out of his friendship with Tony Blair."

Other issues discussed by the French, German and Russian leaders included the situation in Iran following the election last month of hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad as president, and the country's controversial nuclear programme, which Washington suspects is a cover for weapons development, French officials said.

Chirac had earlier welcomed the role played by Russia -- which is building a reactor at Iran's first nuclear power plant -- in backing the European Union-led diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

"I welcome the active role of Russia in what I hope will be a peaceful evolution in Iran," Chirac said, adding, "We approve of Russia's Iran policy."

Despite US objections, Russia is building a USD 800 million (EUR 615 million) reactor at Iran's Bushehr power plant, which is due to be switched on next year, but has agreed to take back spent nuclear fuel rods from Iran to prevent their use in a potential weapons programme.

Chirac also underlined the role played by Britain, France and Germany, who are representing the EU in the talks with Iran, saying they were "determined to find a solution that conforms to the demands of non-proliferation."

Chirac, Putin and Schroeder also discussed the situation in Central Asia, French officials said.

The French and Russian leaders also reiterated their support for Germany's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security council as part of a planned UN reform.

"All the major countries that have emerged in the modern world and those which are major contributors ... should have a place according to their status" in the UN, Chirac told the joint press conference.

Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, was formerly known as Koenigsberg, before the Soviet Union annexed it in 1945 and chased out the German population.

Schroeder has thanked the Russian leadership for their "gesture" in inviting him to join the celebrations in Kaliningrad's Baltic Sea resort of Svetlogorsk.

The German leader attended a ceremony at which the University of Kaliningrad was officially to become Immanuel Kant University, named after the 18th-century German philosopher who is Kaliningrad's most famous son.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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