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Nicolas Sarkozy wants firm figures on climate change from George Bush

Newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would be looking for firm figures on climate change from the United States when he makes his debut on the international stage at this week's G-8 summit.

Sarkozy wants the summit - being held Wednesday to Friday in Heiligendamm, Germany - to concentrate on climate change and aid to Africa, including action on Darfur, he told reporters after a lunch Monday with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

Sarkozy has put climate change at the heart of his presidential agenda, and thinks the United States should do so, too.

The 52-year-old French president has set himself apart from previous French heads of state by suggesting that France can learn from the United States, while stressing that Paris would be a "vassal" to no one.

Sarkozy met U.S. President George W. Bush during a Washington trip while still a presidential hopeful and quickly visited with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after taking office. However, he will have his first presidential encounter with Bush and other leaders of the world's richest countries at the summit.

Known as a man not to mince words, Sarkozy has made clear his priority for France is change.

In his May 6 victory speech, Sarkozy urged the United States to take the lead on climate change, saying that a "great nation like the United States has a duty not to block the battle against global warming but - on the contrary - to take the lead."

Nations need to set goals with firm numbers attached, Sarkozy said Monday.

"We need targets with numbers to show our will to act," Sarkozy said Monday.

He was referring to the lack of solid figures in a proposal unveiled last week by Bush for the 15 leading nations identified as major emitters of greenhouse gases to meet this year and come up with a global goal for carbon emissions - but decide themselves how to reach it.

Bush's proposal "constitutes progress that we should welcome and which seems to mark a veritable realization ...," presidential spokesman David Martinon said. "But we think we have to go further and that we should encourage our American friends and partners to draw the conclusions of this assessment."

Martinon said France wants to see the United States take up the European Union goal of diminishing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared with 1990.

In addition, France encourages the United States to seek "universal legitimacy" for the process by integrating its initiative into U.N. action on climate change, Martinon said.

Aid to Africa, and the humanitarian crisis of Darfur, will also be on Sarkozy's summit agenda.

"The destiny of Africa and that of Europe are linked," he told reporters.

Sarkozy wants to honor the EU member states' commitment to bring development aid to 0.7 percent of their gross national products by 2015. France's was at 0.47 percent in 2006.

The French president will speak out on Darfur at a Thursday lunch, his spokesman said.

"We can no longer resign ourselves to being powerless witnesses of horror. After the indignation, now we must act," Martinon said.

Sarkozy will stress the need for a process of negotiations toward a peace accord, he said.

"The emergency is of a humanitarian and security nature, but the solution is political," said the presidential spokesman.

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