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Chinese President Xi to attend Biden's climate change summit

Dozens of world leaders have been asked to join the two-day virtual meeting, which starts Thursday.
Image: Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech via video at the third World Laureates Forum.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech via video at the third World Laureates Forum.Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images file
/ Source: Reuters

BEIJING - 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, which starts Thursday, since 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 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, which 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 traveled 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 dialog halted during the Donald Trump administration, who withdrew from the Paris agreement.