Obama to Attend Impromptu Climate Change Breakfast at APEC Summit

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UPDATE: Breakfast just concluded here. Michael Froman, a top economic adviser to Obama on the National Security Council, repeated what had been reported here earlier --- that Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen flew here overnight to update APEC leaders on climate change talks.

Nineteen of the 20 APEC heads of state attended the breakfast, arranged at the last minute by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Froman told the traveling White House pool reporters the following:

"There was a general consensus of support for what Rasmussen laid out. He called it one agreement, two steps.  Copenhagen (UN Climate Change talks) would be the first step in a process toward an international binding agreement."

Rasmussen, in a tacit admission the Copenhagen process will not result in a full-blown global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, told the assembled leaders he will instead seek a politically "binding agreement that would cover all the major elements of the negotiations including mitigation, adaption, technology and finance."

Froman told the travel pool that there was "widespread consensus among leaders that Copenhagen be a success" and that it produce evidence of "real concrete progress."

Froman said Obama "spoke in support of" Rasmussen's appraisal and approach.

Here is the list of breakfast attendees:

President Obama

Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Sultan of Brunei

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet

Chinese President Hu Jintao

Japanese President Yukio Hatoyama

South Korean President Myung-bak Lee

Mexican President Felipe Calderon

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare

Peruvian President Alan Garcia

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

President Nguyn Minh Triet of Vietnam

Special Guest: Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen

For more background on the breakfast and underlying issues, see below.

SINGAPORE - President Obama will attend a hastily arranged climate change breakfast Sunday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a White House official said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mexican President Felipe Calderon organized what a White House official described as "an informal breakfast meeting on climate change." The breakfast was not part of the official APEC program and is due to start at 7:30 a.m. local time.

Most of the 20 heads of state of the APEC-members are expected to attend, but no formal list of attendees is available. Climate change is a big part of Obama's agenda on his first trip to Asia. He arrived here from Tokyo and will soon travel to Shanghai and Beijing in China and Seoul, South Korea before returning to the United States on Nov. 19. China and the US are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on earth.

The breakfast was added to Obama's schedule upon his arrival here Saturday night to attend the formal APEC dinner.

The Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen will also attend the breakfast, though Denmark is not an APEC member. Rasmussen leads the Conference of the Parties of 15, which is the overseeing body of UN-sponsored climate change talks aimed at developing global limits to greenhouse gas emissions at the mid-December UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

"The purpose of the meeting is to review where the (climate change) negotiations stand and the path forward," a White House official said.

Climate change negotiations have already bogged down and realists predict no global pact this December, prompting open recognition of the need for another conference in 2010.

Obama is expected to press Chinese leader Hu Jintao to consider deeper greenhouse gas emission reductions to kick-start stalled global warming talks. One problem for Obama is the Democratically controlled Senate has yet to move a House-passed climate change bill to the floor. The Senate will not act until pending health care legislation is finalized.