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Latest update : 2009-07-19

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she is confident that the US and India can work together to reduce carbon emissions, noting that she and Indian Environment Minister Jairam Rajesh had had a "very fruitful" meeting in New Delhi.

AFP - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday she was confident of bridging key divisions with India on how to combat climate change ahead of a high-stakes conference later in the year.

"I am very confident ... that the United States and India can devise a plan that will dramatically change the way we produce, consume and conserve energy," Clinton told reporters in New Delhi after what she described as a "very fruitful" meeting with Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

"We are not sitting down and writing the framework today, but we have many more areas of agreement than perhaps had been appreciated," Clinton said

Climate change and the divisive issue of how developed and developing nations should share the burden of carbon emission cuts has been a focus of Clinton's visit to India, her first as Washington's top diplomat.

Washington is looking towards a December summit in the Danish capital Copenhagen intended to secure a new international agreement on climate change to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

India -- like fellow developing heavyweight China -- has refused to commit to carbon emission cuts in the new treaty until developed nations, particularly the United States, present sufficient targets of their own.

New Delhi has consistently said any pact should not hinder the economic growth of developing countries.

"India's position is that we are simply not in a position to take on legally binding emissions reductions targets," Ramesh said after the meeting with Clinton.

However, he also stressed that India was not "oblivious" of its responsibilities.

"It is possible for us to have an international agreement that recognises formal but differentiated responsibilities," Ramesh said

Clinton was accompanied by her special climate envoy Todd Stern, who also stressed that emissions caps can mean "different things to different people."

Clinton said President Barack Obama's administration has begun to take action on climate change, after his predecessor George W. Bush played down the problem.

As she did during a visit to China, which has overtaken the United States as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, she acknowledged the US had "made mistakes" in its own industrial advance and defended the right of emerging countries to improve their living standards.

"The United States does not and will not do anything that will limit India's economic progress.

"The challenge is to create a global framework that recognises the different needs and responsibilities of developed and developing countries alike," she said.

Clinton kicked off her India visit in Mumbai on Saturday by calling for a global fight against terrorism after paying tribute to victims of last year's deadly attacks on the Indian financial capital.

India blamed the assault on a banned Pakistani militant group.

In her press briefing on Sunday, Clinton said the United States expected the perpetrators of the attacks to be brought to justice, but also noted Islamabad's counter-terrorism efforts.

"We believe there is a commitment to fighting terrorism that permeates the entire (Pakistan) government," Clinton said.

India suspended a peace dialogue with Pakistan after the attacks and insists Islamabad has yet to take sufficient measures against those responsible to warrant a resumption of the process.

On Monday, Clinton will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna on a range of issues including security, trade and arms control.

Indo-US relations were frosty during the Cold War and deteriorated after New Delhi tested an atom bomb in 1998 but thawed after former US president George W. Bush signed a civilian nuclear technology deal with India last year.

Clinton's visit could see an announcement on the two locations India has chosen for US firms to build multi-billion-dollar nuclear power plants, aides said.

Date created : 2009-07-19