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Deal on substantial, not specific, gas cuts

Heiligendamm (Germany), June 7 (Reuters): World leaders agreed today to pursue “substantial” but unspecified cuts in greenhouse gases and pledged to reach a UN deal by 2009 on long-term measures to fight global warming.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, hosting the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) in the seaside Baltic resort town of Heiligendamm, had hoped to gain commitments from member countries to slash emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.

Instead, the club of industrialised nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US — agreed that “resolute and concerted international action” on climate change was urgently needed.

President George W. Bush and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met for the first time following a series of diplomatic clashes that some analysts said heralded a new Cold War.

At the meeting, Putin proposed using a radar system in Azerbaijan to develop a missile shield as an alternative to a disputed US plan to base it in the Czech Republic.

“We can do this automatically, and hence the whole system which is being built as a result will cover not only part of Europe but entire Europe without an exception,” Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

Police patrol craft rammed two inflatable speed boats that breached a security zone around the venue, tipping environmental activists into the Baltic.

The final summit text confirmed that the G8 would act to stem the rise in global warming gases, followed by “substantial” reductions, the most serious commitment to action on the issue by the US, the world's largest polluter.

Leaders also vowed to pursue a new global climate deal by 2009 that would extend and broaden the Kyoto Protocol, noting that the EU, Canada and Japan all want emissions halved by the middle of the century.

Bush emphasised the need for creating a bridge between Europe and developing countries like India and China to ensure reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“By 2008, the world’s emitters of greenhouse gases should come together,” he said. “Nothing is going to happen in terms of substantial reduction unless China and India participate,” Bush said, adding: “If we want them (India and China) at the table, it is important that we give them the opportunity to set an international goal.”

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