Obama will go to Copenhagen to clinch deal

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 9, 2009 5:39pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he would travel to Copenhagen next month if a climate summit is on the verge of a framework deal and his presence there will make a difference in clinching it.

It was Obama's strongest assertion yet he may go to Denmark in mid-December to help secure a new global compact in the fight against climate change, a process clouded by disputes between rich countries and big developing nations.

"If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over edge then certainly that's something that I will do," Obama told Reuters in an interview.

Obama, who has faced resistance from opposition Republicans and even some fellow Democrats to setting caps on greenhouse gas emissions, acknowledged that the U.S. Senate would not pass climate change legislation before Copenhagen.

Delays in the U.S. Congress have rankled European allies and added to questions about how significant the deal that emerges from Copenhagen will ultimately be.

But Obama insisted he remained optimistic that the December 7-18 summit could yield a "framework" agreement.

"I think the question is can we create a set of principles, building blocks, that allow for ongoing and continuing progress on the issue and that's something I'm confident we can achieve," he said.

Obama made clear he considers his talks with Chinese leaders during an Asia tour later this month to be crucial in clearing remaining obstacles to some kind of accord.

"The key now is for the United States and China, the two largest emitters in the world, is to be able to come up with a framework that, along with other big emitters like the Europeans and those countries that are projected to be large emitters in the future, like India, can all buy into," he said.

"I remain optimistic that between now and Copenhagen that we can arrive at that framework," he added.

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)