LE BOURGET, France – Negotiators from around the world appear to be closing in on a landmark accord to slow global warming, with a possible final draft to be presented Saturday for a last round of debate at talks outside Paris.
The draft, completed after late-night negotiations, is being translated from English into the U.N.'s five other official languages and will be presented at a special meeting of international delegates at 11:30 a.m. (1030GMT), according to two French officials.
The officials, not authorized to be publicly named in discussing the negotiations, would not elaborate on the contents of the draft. The last draft of the accord, released Thursday night, did not resolve several key issues, including how rich and developing countries would share the costs of fighting global warming.
If the 190 nations gathered in Paris agree to an accord, it would be a breakthrough after more than two decades of U.N. efforts to persuade governments to work together to reduce the man-made emissions that scientists say are warming the planet. Melting glaciers, rising seas and expanding deserts linked to such climate change are threatening populations around the world.
Negotiators emerged from meetings late Friday with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the host of the talks, amid an air of optimism that had been lacking just hours earlier.
"We are pretty much there," Egyptian Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy, the chairman of a bloc of African countries, told The Associated Press late Friday. "There have been tremendous developments in the last hours. We are very close."
A negotiator from a developed country was equally positive. "I think we got it," said the negotiator, who was not authorized to speak publicly as the talks were not over yet.
In a bid to encourage agreement, French President Francois Hollande will join the special meeting Saturday and give a speech alongside U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to show "the importance of deciding and now adopting the draft text," Hollande's office said.
The talks were initially scheduled to end Friday and then Fabius wanted a final draft accord by early Saturday. U.N. climate conferences often run over time, because of the high stakes and widely differing demands and economic concerns of countries as diverse as the United States and tiny Pacific island nations.
This accord is the first time all countries are expected to pitch in — the previous emissions treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, only included rich countries and the U.S. never signed on.
After a final draft is presented, delegations are expected to spend a few hours studying it before it goes to a plenary meeting for eventual adoption.
Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu was upbeat.
"The signals that have come to me give me encouragement that we are going to have a very ... comprehensive and strong agreement in Paris," Sopoaga told the AP.
Liu Zhenmin, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation, was more cautious. Asked by the AP whether the draft would be the final one, he said only if "it's more or less acceptable."
Earlier Friday, Liu stood firm on his nation's demand that developed countries should assume most responsibility for the costs and argued against an agreement that sets too-tough goals for weaning the world off using oil, gas and coal — the biggest source of carbon emissions.
The U.S. and European countries want to move away from so-called "differentiation" among economies and want big emerging countries like China and India to pitch in more in a final climate deal.
Liu told reporters that issue is "at the core of our concern for the Paris agreement." He said he wants different rules for different countries "clearly stipulated" in the global warming pact.
China is among the more than 180 countries that have submitted emissions targets for the new pact but is resisting Western proposals for robust transparency rules that would require each country to show whether it's on track to meet its target.
Liu also argued against sharply limiting the number of degrees the planet warms this century, because that would involve huge lifestyle and economic changes.
"We need heating. We need air conditioning. You need to drive your car," he said.
Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said differentiation was the biggest dispute and accused developed countries of not showing enough flexibility in the talks.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been in France for five days straight, trying to iron out differences with developing countries. He said he's "hopeful" for an accord and has been working behind the scenes to reach compromises.
Fabius said the world would not find a better moment to reach a global climate deal.
"All the conditions are met to reach a universal, ambitious agreement," he said.
Sylvie Corbet, Seth Borenstein and Matthew Lee in Le Bourget contributed to this report.