Xi to attend Biden's climate change summit in first meeting of two leaders


FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds at the closing session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

BEIJING (Reuters) -China's President Xi Jinping will attend a U.S.-led climate change summit on Thursday at the invitation of President Joe Biden, in the first meeting between the two leaders since the advent of the new U.S. administration.

Biden has invited dozens of world leaders to join the two-day virtual summit starting on Thursday, after bringing the United States back into the 2015 Paris Agreement on cutting global carbon emissions.

Xi will attend the summit via video and will deliver an "important" speech, Hua Chunying, spokeswoman at the Chinese foreign ministry, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Beijing and Washington have persistently clashed over a range of issues from alleged human rights abuses to China's economic clout over other nations.

In Alaska last month, U.S. and Chinese officials held the first high-level in-person talks that bristled with rancor and yielded no diplomatic breakthroughs.

But the two countries, the world's two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, have rediscovered a common interest in battling climate change.

Last week, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry travelled to Shanghai to meet with his Chinese counterpart in the first high-level visit to China by a Biden administration official. Both agreed on concrete actions "in the 2020s" to reduce emissions.

The talks also marked a resumption of climate dialogue halted during the Donald Trump administration, who withdrew from the Paris agreement.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Michael Perry)

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