POTUS (Still) Copenhagen Bound, Despite Setbacks in Denmark

By Gorman Gorman

Dec 17, 2009 11:33am

From Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller:

Despite some rumors swirling in Copenhagen that the lack of progress at the ongoing climate change summit will cause President Obama to cancel his attendance tomorrow, the White House says no – the President is still committed to going.

There have been "no changes" to the President's plans, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this morning.

Mr. Obama is set to leave this evening for an overnight trip to Copenhagen. He'll spend the day Friday on the ground in Demark in hopes to negotiate toward a politically non-binding agreement.

Last night Chinese officials on the ground in Copenhagen said they see no possibility of achievement of a concrete operational accord this week, and have balked at the transparency requirements for a possible agreement. The White House said this morning  that the elements of an agreement are there, and hopes China will get on board.

"Our hope is that what's been reported about their decision to walk away is, will be something that they reconsider," Gibbs said about China's reported pessimism, "The elements of getting an agreement are there if countries like China will make some common sense agreements about transparency. If the Chinese are unwilling to prove, to be able to prove to the world that they can live up to the agreement that they make, then I think it calls into question whether or not you truly have an agreement. That's what the Presidents concern has been."

Gibbs said the United States hopes China will stay at the Copenhagen talks and be part of finding a solution.

"I don't think the President has ever been under any illusion that this was going to be easy," Gibbs said, "but at the same time we're not going there just to get an agreement for the sake of something that's called an agreement. We want something that works for both the international community but also what works for the United States. We think the elements are there to reach that agreement."

Coming back with an empty agreement, Gibbs said, would be far worse that coming back empty handed.

-Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller

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