China defends role at Copenhagen

China has defended its role at this month's climate change talks in Copenhagen, saying Premier Wen Jiabao played a key part in sealing an accord, after critics blamed Beijing for blocking negotiations.

"One can see from the tortuous and difficult process of the summit that China played a crucial role," said a lengthy official record of Wen's attendance at the summit posted on the foreign ministry website late Thursday.

A diplomatic battle of finger-pointing and sharp recriminations has erupted over the summit's final agreement, which has been widely panned for its failure to oblige countries to carry out concrete cuts.

Britain's climate change minister Ed Miliband said earlier this week that China had vetoed attempts to give legal force to the accord and had also blocked an agreement on reductions in global emissions.

But China's foreign ministry promptly slammed the comments, saying "such an attack was made in order to shirk the obligations of developed countries to their developing counterparts and foment discord among developing countries."

According to Thursday's report, Wen held several key meetings last week when he arrived in Copenhagen, including talks that lasted more than two hours with representatives of island nations most at risk of .

The report indicated annoyance over a meeting arranged late Thursday "to discuss a new text," saying China -- which was on the list of participating nations -- had not been notified.

"Premier Wen felt quite astonished," according to a similar account published by state news agency Xinhua, adding that he had convened an emergency meeting to discuss how to handle the situation.

He eventually sent vice foreign minister He Yafei as his emissary. Xinhua quoted He as telling meeting participants that "any scheme in darkness would probably lead to a fruitless summit."

On December 18, the final day of talks among world leaders, developing and developed countries met to discuss the final document but failed to make headway, according to the report.

"At that moment, some countries were even preparing a failure statement for the summit. A few nations' leaders even made irresponsible remarks, criticising ," the report said.

"At the last minute, Premier Wen once again played a key role," deciding to meet leaders of Brazil, South Africa, and India to make one final effort, the report said.

Eventually, an agreement was reached with the United States and some European nations, and pushed through the next day.

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(c) 2009 AFP

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