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Obama telephones Modi, committed to strong climate change pact

Narendra Modi hugs US President Barack Obama

Washington/Paris  : As major divides remained in the negotiations to hammer out an international climate pact, US President Barack Obama had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which they emphasised their “personal commitment” to secure a “strong” agreement.

The call from Obama came even as US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday held a “positive and constructive” meeting with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar at the ongoing climate change conference in Paris on various bilateral efforts made to reach a deal for limiting global warming. India is pushing for an “ambitious and just” agreement.

As negotiators raced against time to clinch a key accord at the climate talks that has been marked by a divide between developed and developing countries, Obama telephoned Modi to discuss the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP21) in the French capital. The conference is due to end on Friday.

“Both leaders emphasised their personal commitment to secure a strong climate change agreement this week and their interest in our countries’ working together to achieve a successful outcome,” the White House said in a readout of the phone call yesterday.

A day earlier, Obama had spoken with his Brazilian counterpart.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington that the US President is closely following the developments in Paris where more than 180 countries are trying to thrash a deal on climate change.

“I can tell you that earlier today, the (US) President placed a telephone call to Prime Minister Modi of India to discuss the ongoing negotiations,” he said.

“I would anticipate that over the course of this week as the negotiations continue, the President would be in touch with other world leaders,” he said, adding that Obama is getting regular updates from his team in Paris about the status of the negotiations.

In Paris last week, Obama had met Modi on the sidelines of the climate change summit. He had also met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Earnest said the US President is optimistic about the success of the Paris summit.

During the telephone call, Modi also expressed his condolences for the loss of lives in the California shooting last week.

Kerry, who arrived in Paris on Monday night, met Javadekar for around an hour at the Indian office of the Conference of Parties (COP21).

“We had a very constructive meeting, a very positive meeting. We are working hard. We appreciate the good effort of the Indian delegation,” Kerry said in brief comments.

Javadekar later said that discussions were made on various efforts made by both the countries to reach a just and ambitious climate change agreement.

“Kerry had come and as you have seen all day long, we (India) is discussing with all the groups and countries. In the next 72 hours we are going to continue this. We had discussions on what efforts they (US) are making and what we are doing,” Javadekar said.
“We want an ambitious and just agreement in Paris. We told him about the efforts we are making for that. The discussions will continue,” he said.

Asked if the issues of equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) were discussed, Javadekar said that India’s role is well known to the US and discussions were made on “how to arrive (at an agreement) and where “the shoe pinches”.

India had come out very strongly against Kerry’s remark in an interview in which he had termed India as a “challenge” in the crucial climate change conference.

Javadekar has already hit out at the remarks earlier, saying they were “unwarranted” and had made it clear that India is “not in the habit of taking any pressure from anybody”.

Since the negotiations here began, India has been critisized, mostly by the western media on its plan to expand its usage of coal to meet its energy needs.

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