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EU optimistic of Kyoto support

TOKYO, Japan -- Russia, Asia and the developing world are backing the European Union for pushing ahead with the Kyoto global warming pact, EU officials said.

An EU delegation was in Japan on Tuesday at the end of a global tour to gain support for the 1997 agreement which suffered a setback when the U.S. said it would not proceed with the pact.

Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson said the delegation had been encouraged by the response they received in China, Russia and Iran, the current chair of the G77 group of developing countries.

"We had quite a positive statement and quite a positive message from Iran and also from Russia and China about going on even without the United States. I think we have very strong support from all countries but the United States."

U.S. President George W. Bush said last month that the agreement unfairly favoured developing countries and would hurt the U.S. economy.

The deal commits industrialised countries to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent on 1990 levels by 2012. The U.S. emitted around 25 percent of global man-made carbon dioxide in 1990.

Russia is one of the world's biggest polluters, but its greenhouse gas emissions has fallen by 30 percent over the last 10 years amid a post-Soviet collapse in its economic output.

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In the same period the U.S.'s emissions grew by nearly 15 percent.

Larsson said the EU would push ahead with the Kyoto accord, saying it had a responsibility to try to persuade Washington to continue to work within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.

"It would of course be very important if the country with by far the largest emissions of carbon dioxide per annum took part in the efforts to find a positive solution."

However, Larsson lauded the efforts that have been made by China, which is the world's most populous nation and has a large and growing industrial base.

"We have heard impressive figures from China," he said, noting that it has made efforts to curb the use of goal and increasing its energy efficiency. "I think it's fair to say they are concerned about this and they are doing all they can."

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda asked fellow cabinet ministers on Tuesday to take united action to persuade Washington to reconsider its decision, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Dutch Environmental Minister Jan Pronk will travel to New York later this month to present a new set of proposals to the U.S. in the hope of keeping it within the worldwide agreement.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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