UN's Ban Says Will Press Bush on Climate Change
Author: Claudia Parsons
Ban also said Darfur, Iraq and the Middle East would be high on the agenda on his visit, during which he will also meet members of Senate and House foreign affairs committees.
"The whole lot of issues will be discussed between me and President Bush -- geopolitical issues, climate changes, UN reform and also necessary fundings by the United States on peacekeeping operations," Ban told a news conference.
"On climate change, I'm encouraged by a high level of expectations as well as representation on that special high level meeting on Sept. 24," he said, referring to a conference on the environment that he has called for September on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.
"I would like to discuss this matter with President Bush and would expect President Bush and the American administration will be represented at the highest possible level," Ban said.
Climate change is a contentious issue among governments including the Bush administration, which has fought mandatory caps on the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.
"American participation is crucially important," Ban said, adding that he was encouraged by Bush's recent initiatives on climate change at last month's G8 summit, where world leaders agreed to pursue substantial cuts in greenhouse gases.
So far the annual UN climate conferences have made little progress in devising new treaty obligations once the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of carbon emissions expires in 2012, possibly leaving the world without global warming regulations.
Ban said he hoped the meeting in September would generate "strong political will" before a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December in Bali, Indonesia, where UN officials hope to launch formal negotiations on a new treaty.
Ban also said he would also press Bush over US arrears in funding for peacekeeping, which UN officials say could seriously undermine missions from Darfur to Haiti.
Funding legislation in Congress so far shows a shortfall of over US$500 million, according to a UN assessment of what is needed over the next year. In addition, Washington is more than US$1 million behind in its UN dues for administrative costs.
Ban said he would visit California on July 26-27 to discuss climate change and see environmental measures there.
"I plan to meet with the Guvernator," he said, using a nickname for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, still best known as the star of the "Terminator" movies.