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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Straw rejects 'shaming' US on Kyoto
Left to right: Jack Straw, President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
All smiles - but will splits on Kyoto prove damaging?
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has dismissed calls to "shame" America into accepting the Kyoto climate change treaty.

US President George W Bush's rejection of the 1997 agreement was a major source of tension when he met European Union leaders on Thursday.

It is sometimes possible for friends to disagree

Jack Straw
The 15 heads of government now have to decide the way forward as they begin two days of talks in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

From there Mr Straw told BBC News: "I think the idea that we should set out on a strategy of 'shaming' a close ally is ridiculous.

"What we should do is say: 'Yes, there is a disagreement here, but is there a way of continuing the process of discussion so that at least we can get the Americans to agree to take policy steps that amount to the same thing, or not much less than the same thing, as Kyoto'."

'Fundamental differences'

In a joint statement on Thursday night both sides said they recognised the need for strong leadership to reach a global solution on climate change, but that fundamental differences remained.

Mr Bush provoked anger in Europe by describing the Kyoto treaty as "unrealistic and not based on science".

As the summit proceeded, environmentalists and anti-globalisation activists clashed with riot police in Gothenburg.

Goeran Persson
Goeran Persson: 'EU will ratify Kyoto'
Goeran Persson, the Prime Minister of Sweden - which currently holds the EU presidency - said the EU would go ahead with the ratification process of the Kyoto protocol despite the US opposition.

Despite difficulties at the summit, Mr Bush expressed optimism over his administration's relations with Europe, saying he was looking forward to a "constructive relationship".

One of America's objections to Kyoto is a perceived leniency towards developing countries compared to developed nations.

But Mr Straw said the EU would continue to argue that the way the treaty shared the burden of tackling climate change was well founded.

"This is isn't out of so-called softness - it is because what we're dealing with here is the accumulation of scientific problems from the developed countries over a space of a hundred years," he said.

However, the UK foreign secretary was also keen to play down the implications of divisions over Kyoto, saying: "It is sometimes possible for friends to disagree - this is one of those areas."

Expansion headache

Another headache EU leaders are considering during the Gothenburg summit is future expansion.

Plans to include countries from eastern Europe have been thrown into disarray after Ireland's rejection of the Treaty of Nice in a referendum.

Mr Straw said an EU resolution, including Ireland, had already been agreed "about assistance which we would seek to make that would allow that treaty to be ratified again by the Irish people but without in any way re-negotiating the Nice treaty".

With other countries needing to complete ratification processes there was "no suggestion whatsoever" that the Irish referendum would stall the process of enlargement.

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See also:

14 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Straw - I'm a practical European
14 Jun 01 | Europe
In pictures: Gothenburg protests
14 Jun 01 | Europe
Swedes still sceptical about EU
11 Jun 01 | UK
Straw's Europe debut
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