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Obama to join final climate talks

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will attend the high-level portion of international climate talks in Copenhagen on Dec. 18, the White House announced Friday, ratcheting up expectations that the United Nations-sponsored negotiations could produce a significant deal on global warming.

Obama had planned to stop in Copenhagen on Wednesday, on his way to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Instead, the president will be there during the critical period when more than 80 heads of government convene to try to finalize an agreement.

In a statement, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama has determined “there is progress being made towards a meaningful Copenhagen accord” now that both China and India have announced nationwide energy-efficiency targets in the last week.

India announced Thursday that it will lower its carbon emissions relative to the size of its economy by 20 percent by 2020, and China announced a week earlier that it would lower its emissions relative to its economy’s size by up to 45 percent over the same period.

Obama’s aides have said for weeks that he would attend the closing hours of the world meeting only if he thought his presence could help secure an agreement.