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Spotlight: Sudden exit of top U.S. official revises down expectations for G7 environmental ministerial meeting
Last Updated: 2017-06-12 11:08 | Xinhua
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The sudden exit of the head of the U.S. delegation lowered expectations for the ongoing Group of Seven (G7) environmental ministerial talks, showing differences between the United States and the group's other countries can be hardly resolved.

There was no formal word on the unscheduled departure of Scott Pruitt, chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a few hours after the two-day G7 talks began on Sunday.

U.S. media said Pruitt was "summoned" by President Donald Trump to Washington to attend Trump's first full cabinet meeting on Monday.

With the participation of junior U.S. officials, discussions continued in the northern Italian city Bologna about topics including climate change, sustainable development and litter at sea.

"Positions over the Paris accord are far apart ...and will remain like that," Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said on Sunday on the sidelines of the G7 meeting of environment ministers from the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Britain. Italy holds the G7 presidency for 2017.

The G7 environmental meeting is also attended by the European Commission, the United Nations, and four invited countries: Chile, Ethiopia, the Maldives and Rwanda.

"We definitely made a step forward towards dialogue -- aside from climate, there is complete agreement on all the other issues," said Galletti

U.S. media reports cited Pruitt as saying in March he did not believe carbon dioxide was a primary contributor to global warming. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax costing U.S. jobs, announced to quit the Paris Agreement reached in December 2015.

The U.S. move, described as a setback for the global fight against climate change by advocates of the Paris climate accord joined by more than 190 countries and ratified by close to 150 countries, drawing widespread criticism at home and particularly from Europe.

Some European leaders said the U.S. decision was a disappointment or a mistake.

Germany, France and Italy have issued a joint statement saying the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, urging increased efforts to fight climate change.

Trump has showed his intention to renegotiate the Paris deal or begin talks on a new accord on "terms that are fair to the United States," which is among the world's top carbon emitters.

Converting to a circular economy is "a truly irreversible process" and the circular economy is not only environmental policy, but also economic policy, Galletti noted on Sunday.

Pruitt said in a statement later on Sunday that the United States had always been a world leader on environment issues and "that was demonstrated on a global stage today."

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