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Copenhagen: Over 65 world leaders confirmed to attend

Hopes for meaningful deal boosted as large numbers of world leaders agree to fly in for crucial talks; The Danish hosts of next month's Copenhagen climate change summit have revealed that over 65 world leaders have accepted an invitation to attend the meeting, significantly bolstering the chances of a robust political deal being agreed.

Earlier this month, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen formally invited leaders from 192 countries to attend the UN meeting to agree a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, arguing that the presence of countries' leaders would increase the chances of a deal being reached.

Speaking over the weekend, Danish officials confirmed that leaders from at least 65 nations had accepted the invitation, including leaders from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Japan, Australia and Brazil.

The leaders from the world's three most polluting nations, US president Barack Obama, Chinese president Hu Jintao, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have not confirmed their attendance, although Obama said earlier this month that he could attend.

"If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over the edge, then certainly that's something that I will do," he told Reuters in an interview.

Officials are hopeful that with so many leaders already confirmed pressure will increase on others to follow suit. The presence of world leaders is also expected to boost the chances of some form of deal being brokered with few leaders likely to relish the prospect of returning to their electorates empty handed.

The news came as another major business group today called for a robust deal to be agreed in Copenhagen.

The Combat Climate Change group, a group including BP, Gazprom, General Electric, Unilever, Vattenfall and over 60 other large firms, urged negotiators to deliver clear deal that will unlock much of the low carbon investment that will be required from the private sector.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Lars Josefsson, chairman of the group and chief executive of Vattenfall, said that a deal was essential for stimulating investment in clean technology.

"Of the money required to implement a deal, the vast majority - about 80 per cent - will come from the private sector," he said. "That can only come when there is a stable legal framework."

He added that business leaders may well prove more effective at drawing up that legal framework than politicians. "If we were to ask business leaders to sit down and make a global agreement, I'm sure that within a relatively short time they would be able to do it because they are less constrained by national politics," he said. "It is very important to get business more engaged because they have the knowledge of the market economy and how investments are made."

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