Bush threatens U.N. over Clinton climate speech

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Officials in the Bush administration privately threatened the organizers of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, saying that any chance there might have been for the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol would be lost if Bill Clinton spoke Friday at the meeting.

The threat was received within minutes of the Associated Press running a story on Clinton being added to the program. "It's just astounding." said one organizer. "It came through loud and clear from the Bush people—they wouldn't sign the deal if Clinton were allowed to speak."

Clinton said, "There's no way that I'm gonna let petty politics get in the way of the deal. So I'm not gonna come." The organizers later reported that they had "called the administration's bluff." Clinton delivered his speech as planned.

In his speech Friday, Clinton described the Bush administration's opposition to Kyoto as "flat wrong."

Vice-President Dick Cheney directed the U.S. envoy to walk out Thursday, in response to comments by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on Thursday. The walk out is not believed to relate to Clinton's attendance.