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Merkel Says U.S. Withdrawal From Paris Climate Deal 'Very Regrettable'


German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a statement in Berlin on June 2.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate deal is "very regrettable."

Merkel's remarks on June 2 added to a wave of international condemnation of Trump's move, with U.S. allies and rivals alike decrying his decision.

In a short statement to the parliament in Berlin, Merkel pledged her country's continued commitment to the 2015 accord, calling it a "cornerstone" of attempts to protect international efforts to fight global warming.

"The decision of the U.S. president to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is very regrettable, and I'm expressing myself in a very reserved way when I say that," she said a day after Trump announced his decision to pull out.

Merkel said there was no turning back from the path that began with the 1997 Kyoto climate protocol and continued with 2015's "historic" Paris deal.

Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal in an address at the White House on June 1, saying the accord "punished" the United States and would cost millions of American jobs.

He added that he was ready to negotiate a new agreement or reenter the accord on improved terms.

The U.S. withdrawal from the accord "can't and won't stop all those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet," Merkel said, calling for the world to continue working together.

"To everyone for whom the future of our planet is important, I say let's continue going down this path so we're successful for our Mother Earth," she said to applause from lawmakers.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesman said it "a major disappointment" that the United States was leaving the agreement.

The Paris accord committed 188 states to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and "endeavor to limit" them even more, to 1.5 degrees above those levels.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and top officials from the European Union indicated they were set to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris document later on June 2 in Brussels.

Climate issues were expected to dominate discussions between Li, who is leading a large Chinese delegation, and EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Speaking to European business leaders alongside Li, Juncker said EU-China ties were underpinned by "a rules-based international system."

China's government, which even before Trump's decision had pledged to work with European states to recommit to the climate accord, called the U.S. withdrawal a "global setback," according to state news agency Xinhua.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump personally in a phone call late on June 1 that "nothing was renegotiable" and the two countries would have to confine their joint efforts in the future to projects outside of climate change, French officials said.

"There is no plan B because there is no planet B," Macron said in a televised address afterwards. "We will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord. There is no way."

Meanwhile, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Paris deal will not work well without the United States.

"It is obvious that without the United States, the Paris agreement will be ineffective since the United States is one of the major greenhouse-gas emitters," Andrei Belousov said on June 2.

Earlier, state-run news agency RIA-Novosti quoted Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as saying that Russia would not alter its decision to join the agreement despite the U.S. withdrawal.

Russia has signed but not yet ratified the Paris accord.

Trump said the Paris accord would undermine the U.S. economy, cost U.S. jobs, weaken national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.

At home in the United States, Trump got a mixed reaction, with Republicans in Congress praising his boldness and rejecting what they called a "raw deal" for the United States.

But Democrats deplored his move as "tragedy for the environment" and an "abdication of leadership" on the world stage.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama, who agreed to the Paris accord, criticized the decision, accusing his successor's administration of "rejecting the future."

The U.S. president did not give a timescale.

The Paris document says that a country seeking to leave the pact can only give notice three years after the date it entered into force -- November 16, 2016.

The process of departing the agreement then lasts for another year, meaning it would not be finalized until just weeks after the U.S. presidential election in 2020.

In explaining his decision to walk away from the rest of the world, Trump proclaimed that "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

But he got blowback even from the mayor of Pittsburgh, which during the 20th century made its mark as a major producer of steel but today prides itself as a "green" city that is committed to environmental and technological progress.

"Pittsburgh stands with the world and will follow the Paris Agreement," the city's mayor, Bill Peduto, tweeted.

Trump, who got overwhelming support in the rural areas of the United States where coal is mined, had stressed the detrimental impact on the economy from the accord, which he said would cost millions of U.S. mining and manufacturing jobs.

He called the decision to pull out a "solemn duty to protect America and its citizens” and restore U.S. “sovereignty” over its own economy and governance.

However, several major U.S. business leaders were adamantly criticizing the Trump administration's move.

"Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world," Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger said they would leave White House advisory councils after Trump's move.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP, BBC, RIA-Novosti, and Interfax
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