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France leads UN push to keep Trump in Paris climate accord

France's president Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump meet at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly on 18 September, 2017, in New York. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

On Monday, France led a push at the United Nations (UN) to keep the United States in the Paris climate agreement, as Donald Trump's administration insisted it was not backing down.

Gary Cohn, the chief White House economic adviser, reiterated Trump's opposition to the landmark accord as he met over breakfast with officials from other major economies at the start of the UN General Assembly, an annual week of diplomacy.

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, whose government has made preserving the agreement reached in the French capital in 2015 a top priority, held out hope.

"We take note of President Trump's statements on not respecting it, but for the moment no action has been taken and we still hope to persuade him," he told reporters.

"We have to make sure that international pressure is strong and that we do not stop the agreement from being implemented," he said, noting that French president Emmanuel Macron has called a climate summit for 12 December in Paris.

The Trump administration has sent out mixed messages on the Paris deal in recent days.

European officials suggested after a climate meeting in Montreal on Saturday that Washington might be ready to re-engage with the pact.

That prompted a firm pushback from the White House, which insisted its stance was unchanged. But then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asserted a day later that the US was studying ways to cooperate with other countries on what, he said, "is still a challenging issue."

with AFP