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Obama, Xi Recommit to Cutting Carbon Emissions

President Barack Obama (L) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting on the sidelines of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Nov. 30, 2015.

China and the United States, the world's two biggest polluters, renewed their commitment Monday to adoption of controls on greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines on the first day of the summit, discussing a range of global and regional issues, including the fight against Islamic State terrorism, technology security between the two countries and peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

In a joint statement, they reaffirmed pollution-controlling pledges they had made in the last year, saying the summit "presents a crucial opportunity to enhance action to meet this fundamental climate change challenge." China's commitment came as its capital, Beijing, recorded its worst air pollution of the year, forcing polluting factories to cut their production.

"As the two largest economies in the world and the two largest carbon-emitters, we have both determined that it is our responsibility to take action," Obama said.

Vehicles drive along a road with a sign reading "Low visibility, slow down" on a heavily polluted day in Beijing, Nov. 30, 2015.
Vehicles drive along a road with a sign reading "Low visibility, slow down" on a heavily polluted day in Beijing, Nov. 30, 2015.

"It's very important for China and the United States to be firmly committed to the right direction of building a new model of major country relations and follow the principle of non-confrontation and non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation," Xi said before meeting with Obama.

The White House said after the talks that Obama "emphasized the importance of full adherence" the two leaders made in September to not "conduct or knowingly support" Chinese or American theft of intellectual property and resolve regional issues, such as disputes over control of islands in the South China Sea, "peacefully and in accordance with international law."

Washington said the two leaders renewed their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to work together on the implementation of the international agreement to block Iran's development of a nuclear weapon.

The White House said Xi and Obama agreed to "strengthen coordination" to support a political transition to end the four-and-a-half-year conflict in Syria and alleviate human suffering in the Middle East.