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U.S., China Meet Again at Climate Summit

Updated at 3:27 p.m. EST

A diplomatic frenzy enveloped the final scheduled day of the U.N. climate conference Friday, with President Barack Obama meeting with China's premier as world leaders pressed to salvage a global warming accord amid deep divisions between rich and poor nations.

But neither Mr. Obama nor Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered any new commitments to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming as they addressed the conference. And Wen skipped a high-level meeting of major nations, sending an envoy instead.

"We are ready to get this done today but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that is better for us to act rather than talk," Mr. Obama said, insisting on a transparent way to monitor each nation's pledges to cut emissions.

Wen told delegates that China's voluntary targets of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent will require "tremendous efforts." The target refers to China's rate of emissions per unit of economic growth.

"We will honor our word with real action," Wen said.

Abandoning any hope of reaching a comprehensive deal, a group of about 25 countries sought agreement on a two-page political statement setting out critical elements, key among them the mobilization of $30 billion in the next three years to help poor countries cope with climate change and a scaling up to $100 billion a year by 2020.

As negotiations evolved, new drafts of the document, titled the Copenhagen Accord, emerged with key clauses being inserted, deleted and reintroduced with new wording.

South Korea's chief negotiator, Rae-Kwon Chung, said one of the sticking points was a clause saying the combined emissions of rich and poor countries should be cut in half by 2050. Some developing countries opposed that target, fearing it would "define their carbon space," he said, declining to identify them.

With the climate talks in disarray, Mr. Obama and Wen met twice Friday — once privately and once with other world leaders present — in hopes of sweeping aside some of the disputes that have barred a final deal.

After the first meeting, White House officials reported a "step forward" in negotiations in key issues including financing and transparency, reports CBS News correspondent Peter Maer. But the degree of progress was not immediately clear.

Wen skipped a high-level meeting a second time and sent another envoy instead.

Later Friday, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held talks with European leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Reporters asked how negotiations were going as Obama walked into the meeting. "Always hopeful," he replied.

Diplomats and leaders had only a handful of hours left for high-level talks to find the "miracle" answer that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said was needed for more than 110 leaders to sign a deal at the conference's finale. Frustration and discouragement outweighed hope in the addresses by leaders to the conference Friday.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions," Steiner said. He told AP the chance of a meaningful deal was now better than 50-50, but the talks were "in crisis mode" and weary negotiators could still scuttle an accord with one or two outbursts.

"(But) a deal is on the table, it is doable," Steiner said.

Many delegates had been looking toward China and the U.S. — the world's two largest carbon polluters — to deepen their pledges to cut their emissions. But that was not to be.

China has been criticized at the two-week conference offering stronger carbon emissions targets and for resisting international monitoring of its actions. After a morning meeting with 20 leaders, including Mr. Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said progress in the climate talks was being held back by China.

"These two powers, very wary of each other, are each desperate not to have a deal here that will give strategic and economic advantage to the other," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith Friday.

Friedman said the main sticking point for China was the U.S. demand for "transparency" - measures written into any agreement that would require Beijing to prove its actions to reduce emissions to the international community.

"The Chinese have basically said we promise not to go over the speed limit," quipped Friedman, "but we want no police, no courts, no stoplights, no real transparency on their carbon emissions… and President Obama is saying, 'If you think I can get that through the U.S. Congress - that China promises to be good on carbon, well, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.'"

But the U.S. got its share of blame as well.

"President Obama was not very proactive. He didn't offer anything more," said delegate Thomas Negints, from Papua New Guinea. He said his country had hoped for "more on emissions, put more money on the table, take the lead."

Mr. Obama may eventually become known as "the man who killed Copenhagen," said Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director Phil Radford.

Money to help poor nations cope with climate change and shift to clean energy seemed to be where negotiators at the 193-nation conference could claim most success. Pollution cuts and the best way to monitor those actions remained unresolved.

The lack of progress meant Mr. Obama changed the word "agreement" from his prepared speech to negotiators to "framework I just outlined."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told negotiators that "the finishing line is in sight," reminding them that "the world is watching."

And Brazil's Silva told negotiators how frustrated he was that the job was left to heads of state after the talks ran until just before dawn Friday.

"I am not sure if such an angel or wise man will come down to this plenary and put in our minds the intelligence that we lacked," Silva said. "I believe in God. I believe in miracles."

To move the talks forward, Silva said Brazil, a developing country, would give money to help other developing countries cope with the costs of global warming.

In a diatribe against the U.S., Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticized the conference as undemocratic.

"There is a document that has been moving around, all sorts of documents that have been moving around, there is a real lack of transparency here," he said. "We reject any document that Obama will slip under the door."

The conference has been plagued by growing distrust between rich and poor nations. Both sides blamed the other for failing to take ambitions actions to tackle climate change. At one point, African delegates staged a partial boycott of the talks.

Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, negotiating on behalf of the 27-nation European Union, blamed the impasse on the Chinese for "blocking again and again," and on the U.S. for coming too late with an improved offer, a long-range climate aid program announced Thursday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A leading African delegate complained bitterly about the proposed declaration.

"It's weak. There's nothing ambitious in this text," said Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, a leader of the developing nations bloc.

Any agreement was expected, at best, to envision emissions-cutting targets for rich nations and billions in climate aid for poor countries, but fall well short of the goal of a legally binding pact. If the political deal is done, it would still be seen by many as a setback, following two years of intense negotiations to agree on new emissions reductions and financial support for poorer nations.

China and the U.S had sought to give the negotiations a boost Thursday with an announcement and a concession.

Clinton said Washington would press the world to come up with a climate aid fund amounting to $100 billion a year by 2020, a move that was quickly followed by an offer from China to open its reporting on actions to reduce carbon emissions to international review.

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Find behind-the-scenes information, blog posts and discussion about the Copenhagen climate conference at a Facebook page run by the Associated Press and an array of international news agencies. Follow coverage and blogging of the event on Twitter

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