The Presidential Planner Abroad

By Stephen Splane

Dec 18, 2009 1:00am

ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: After traveling overnight, President Obama will land in Copenhagen, Denmark early this morning and immediately enter into high-stakes meetings on climate change.

The 193-nation conference has hit many hurdles during the course of the last 10 days. Obama’s attendance for the tail-end of the climate change conference is a politically risky move, uncertain of what kind of impact, if any, his presence will have.

A senior administration official says this is "probably one of the most complicated and complex international negotiations that he [Obama] has seen as president in terms of the number of parties, the complexity of the issues, the dynamics of the negotiations, the cross currents among the coalition.”

Another administration official, setting up the summit added yesterday, “It’s impossible at this point to anticipate where this will end, whether we’ll have a final agreement or not.”

After the president touches down in Copenhagen he’ll head right into a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Lars Lkke Rasmussen of Denmark.

All eyes will be on the president’s next meeting, with the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, where Mr. Obama will discuss the ongoing dispute at the center of the stalled conference’s discussion, over the transparency of emissions reductions.

"Our hope is that what's been reported about their decision to walk away is, will be something that they reconsider," White House press secretary Robert 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."

The President will then attend the morning plenary session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference where he will deliver brief remarks.

“I think he will be underscoring the importance of this issue to him personally and him to the future of the world,” a senior administration official says, “He will be reaffirming America’s commitment to lead o the issue of climate change…… the same time I think he will be underscoring what you have heard him speak about often, including at the United Nations which is that this is an issue, a global issue, that demands global action. And therefore all countries have responsibilities to move forward.”

In the afternoon, the President will participate in an official photo with Heads of State and Heads of the U.S. Delegation. The President will then hold a bilateral meeting with President Lula da Silva of Brazil. Later, the President will participate in the afternoon plenary session.

The President will then hold a bilateral meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. The two leaders plan to discuss the nuclear negotiations for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that was let expire earlier this month.

The President’s return to Washington, DC is yet to be determined, the White House says. 

-Sunlen Miller

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