John Kerry in China for talks ahead of climate summit

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is in talks in China on Thursday ahead of President Joe Biden’s climate summit of world leaders.

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment said the discussions in Shanghai running through Saturday aim to boost cooperation on climate change and exchange views on the U.N. Climate Change Conference known as COP 26 to be held in Scotland in November.

A brief statement from the ministry said Kerry would be meeting with China’s top climate negotiator, fellow veteran diplomat Xie Zhenhua. The U.S. and China are the world’s biggest carbon emitters and both have set targets to become carbon neutral in coming decades, although China’s stated date of 2060 has been described as not ambitious enough.

The trip marks the highest-level travel to China known so far for officials of the Biden administration and comes amid heightened tensions over human rights, trade and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea. As the largest contributor by far of climate-damaging fumes from burning petroleum and coal, China is essential to any success of global climate accords.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said no media events are planned before Kerry travels on to Seoul, South Korea.

Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese head of state Xi Jinping, to participate in an April 22-23 virtual climate summit. The U.S. and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions and pledge financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.

Kerry has been pressing global leaders in person and over the internet ahead of the summit for commitments and alliances on climate efforts.

Is Russia’s ‘Adversary,’ Leading Diplomat Says

Russia sees the United States as its “adversary,” a top Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday amid heightened tensions with Washington over the eastern Ukraine conflict.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s words mark a departure from Russia’s usual description of the U.S. as a “partner.” They follow U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s warning that Moscow would face “consequences” for aggressive behavior in eastern Ukraine, where increased clashes and Russian military buildup have sparked international concern.

“The United States is our adversary, doing everything to undermine Russia’s position on the international stage; we see no other aspects in their approach toward us,” Interfax quoted Ryabkov as saying to reporters.

“U.S. officials talk about a high price, but they never name it. What they have been doing so far, firstly, we have studied well, and secondly, we have adapted to. We don’t believe in such terminology: price, retribution and so on,” he said.

The diplomat added that Russia would continue to “defend its interests,” including those of Russian citizens and Russian speakers living in the disputed region.

Ryabkov also accused the U.S. and other NATO members of “deliberately turning Ukraine into a powder keg” and of increasing their arms supplies to Ukraine.

Intensified clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the separatist-controlled Donbass and Luhansk regions this year have undermined a ceasefire that took effect last summer.

War monitors and the White House have said that Russia has amassed the largest military force near its border with Ukraine and in annexed Crimea since the conflict broke out in 2014, sparking calls for restraint from world powers.

The Kremlin has acknowledged the troop movements but insisted that Moscow does not intend to threaten anyone.

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