The Danish president of the U.N. climate conference, Connie Hedegaard, has resigned and will be replaced by the Danish prime minister as head of the historic talks.

The change was announced Wednesday as the 193-nation conference enters into a higher phase of negotiations, with world leaders arriving.

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer says Hedegaard will continue to lead informal talks but Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen will now be the formal head of the conference.

Hedegaard said the move was procedural and that it was appropriate for Loekke Rasmussen to preside with so many heads of state and government taking part.

Hedegaard was appointed climate minister in 2004 and has been criticized by African nations for favoring rich nations in the climate negotiations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.