Summit Urged to Set Climate Accord Deadline

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COPENHAGEN—Next month's summit on climate change in Copenhagen must set a deadline for a legally binding document, Denmark's climate minister said Monday.

Connie Hedegaard said it is very important to set the deadline "as soon as possible" in the text to be agreed upon in the Danish capital. She spoke at the start of a two-day closed meeting of climate negotiators from nearly 40 countries who are preparing for the Copenhagen U.N. summit, which starts on Dec. 7.

The head of the U.N. climate change secretariat, Yvo de Boer, said participants at the Copenhagen meeting must come up with "a series of clear decisions" in order to have a treaty within six months after the conference ends. It would be designed to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Meanwhile, Germany announced on Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to attend the summit.

Merkel's spokesman, Christoph Steegmans, said Merkel does not expect the meeting to produce a legally binding accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but that the chancellor expects "an important step toward a treaty" to be made.

Merkel was instrumental in securing the Kyoto Protocol, which was approved while she served as Germany's environment minister.

Steegmans said Merkel was expected to be in Copenhagen Dec. 17-18.

She is one of dozens of world leaders who will attend the summit.

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AP writer Melissa Eddy contributed to this story from Berlin.