• Kyodo

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Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi on Friday urged the United States to commit to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, saying that Washington’s problems with the accord can be solved within the treaty framework, Japanese government officials said.

Kawaguchi told Kenneth Brill, acting assistant secretary of state, that she is concerned over the adverse effects on international climate-change negotiations of President George W. Bush’s announcement last month that the U.S. was withdrawing from the pact.

Brill reportedly told Kawaguchi that Washington is reviewing its policy on the Kyoto pact at the ministerial level and will make an alternate proposal in time to influence the Kyoto process. He did not elaborate on what the proposal is likely to be.

Following Bush’s announcement and the worldwide criticism it attracted, the U.S. has been preparing a new approach that would seek participation by developing countries as well as industrialized nations.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has said Washington will produce the new framework in time for U.N.-sponsored climate-change talks scheduled to resume in Bonn, Germany, in July.

Kawaguchi, who is in New York for an unofficial environmental ministers’ meeting at U.N. headquarters, is scheduled to meet with Armitage and Christine Whitman, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, on Monday in a bid to convince them that U.S. participation in efforts to counter global warming is essential.

U.S. government officials conveyed negative views toward the protocol to environment ministers from various countries before Saturday’s multilateral meeting at the United Nations, diplomatic sources said.

The U.S. is not participating in the ministerial meeting as it considers it a venue for exchanging opinions rather than actual negotiations, the sources said. It has not even appointed a State Department official to be responsible for the upcoming international talks on climate change.

A U.S. official said that Washington thinks the Kyoto pact is unjust, and supported Vice President Dick Cheney’s comments that the Kyoto pact is a “dead proposition.”

The Kyoto treaty requires the world’s industrialized countries to impose binding limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012. The U.S. is required to cut emissions by 7 percent.

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