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US Climate Envoy Talks with China on Emissions Cuts

China and the United States have agreed to strengthen cooperation in areas like clean energy, as the international community gets ready to discuss a new climate treaty in Copenhagen, this December. U.S. special envoy for climate change Todd Stern has wrapped two days of talks with officials in Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters Tuesday China and the United States have agreed to establish a joint technological research and development center to promote cooperation in clean energy and climate-change study.

Yet Qin says China and the United States have "common-but-differentiated responsibilities" when it comes to actions to prevent climate change.

This same phrase was used by Vice Premier Li Keqiang Monday, before meeting with the American envoy. Its wording points to the underlying tensions of these talks. China and the United States are the top two emitters of greenhouse gases and, together, produce one half of the world's carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuel. But China says it is still a developing nation and that the United States should have to make bigger cuts in emissions than China.

Stern agrees developing countries do not need to make the same emissions reductions as developed nations. Yet he says China's current cuts are insufficient.

Analysts agree that, unless the two countries can reach a compromise, it will be difficult to create a successful new climate-change treaty. The current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. China has ratified the treaty. The United States has not. In six months, the United Nations will hold a conference in Copenhagen to discuss a new agreement.

Spokesman Qin says the two sides agreed to push forward for positive results at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference.

Qin says a strengthened partnership in the field of climate change will strengthen relations and encourage the international community to increase support for combatting global warming.