December 11, 2015 / 6:39 AM / 2 years ago

China's President Xi and Obama discuss climate change by phone

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday that their countries should step up efforts to reach a climate change deal, state media said, as leaders try to bridge gaps between rich and developing countries at talks in Paris.

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the start of the climate summit in Paris November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Negotiators from 195 countries remain divided over fundamental issues, including which countries would be expected to shell out the hundreds of billions of dollars required to help developing nations shift from fossil fuels to lower-carbon energy sources.

That sticking point has accentuated backroom tension between the United States and China, the world’s two largest carbon emitters, over what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the “minimalist” approach by countries that could make a greater financial contribution.

Chinese negotiators have avoided discussion of specific details but have indicated there is room for compromise.

“As the Paris climate summit negotiations near their end, China and the United States must strengthen coordination with all parties, and work together to ensure the Paris climate summit reaches an accord as scheduled,” Xi told Obama in a telephone call on Friday.

“This will be beneficial for the international community,” China Central Television (CCTV) cited Xi as saying.

“The United States is willing to maintain close coordination with China to achieve success at the Paris climate summit,” the broadcaster cited Obama as saying.

Xi and Obama met at the start of the U.N. climate talks on Nov. 30, and pledged cooperation to reach an agreement.

Negotiations are taking longer than planned to overcome disputes and will last an extra day into Saturday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

Many participants remain haunted by the calamitous failure to get a deal in Copenhagen in 2009, the last time the world tried to reach a consensus on dealing with climate change.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called on all countries to “narrow differences”.

“At the moment, there’s still some distance to cover before reaching a final consensus on the deal,” Hua told a regular news briefing.

Reporting by Michael Martina and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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