Global climate talks stumbling near finish line; Obama, Xi talk

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PARIS (Reuters) - Efforts to craft a global accord to combat climate change stumbled early on Friday after a "hard night" of talks, forcing host nation France to extend the U.N. summit by a day to overcome stubborn divisions.

After revealing a new draft treaty that removed some main points of contention last night, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a final text would now be presented to nearly 200 nations for review only on Saturday, not later on Friday as he had hoped just hours earlier.

While annual U.N. climate meetings almost always run into overtime, the abrupt announcement came as some officials and observers also said that wee-hours discussions had not run as smoothly as hoped. The talks had been due to end on Friday.

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Global climate talks stumbling near finish line; Obama, Xi talk
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Centre, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Obama discussed the COP21 climate change summit, and the threat of terrorism from the Islamic State Group. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
A riot police officer patrols at the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A participant walks in front of China's pavillon at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with heads of state from small island nations most at risk from the harmful effects of climate change, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to deliver his statement at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A participant takes a rest at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Imam Ibrahim Saidy of Norway poses at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Saidy of Norway has declared a "green jihad" but is holy war action on climate change is mostly about seminars, symposiums and fasting. Saida is one of more than 10,000 interfaith clergy worldwide who fast the first day of each month to call attention to the problem of global warming. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A woman eating an apple walks past posters of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
U.S. Associate Director for Research of the Earth Science Division (ESD) within NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Jack Kaye delivers a conference about Antarctic Mass Change at the U.S. Pavillon during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A woman looks on, in front of Indonesia's pavillon at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French President Francois Hollande puts his thumbprint on a wall at the Nicolas Hulot Foundation in the Climate Generations area during the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, north of Paris,Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with heads of state from small island nations most at risk from the harmful effects of climate change, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
A man visits the Climate Generations Areas, part of the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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As at the outset two weeks ago, some nations remain at odds over issues such as how to balance actions by rich and poor to limit greenhouse gases, and also the long-term goals of any agreement to limit emissions that are warming the earth.

One source said the "night was very hard".

"Major countries have entrenched behind their red lines instead of advancing on compromise," said Matthieu Orphelin, spokesman for the Nicolas Hulot Foundation.

Fabius, speaking on French BFMTV, kept a positive tone.

"But the atmosphere is good, things are positive, things are going in the right direction," he said.

Separately, China's President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone and said their countries would maintain cooperation on climate change, Chinese state television reported. It was unclear what they discussed, or whether the call signalled new divisions between the world's largest emitters, who struck a landmark climate accord last year.

Xi said the two nations "must strengthen coordination with all parties and work together to ensure the Paris climate summit reaches an accord as scheduled", according to a report on state CCTV.

The latest draft pointed to a compromise on the once-formidable divide over how ambitious the deal should be in trying to control the rise in the earth's surface temperature. It indicated apparent agreement on seeking a more ambitious goal to restrain the rise in temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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