Obama says climate bill just the beginning

The Washington Times | June 26, 2009
By Stephen Dinan

President Obama on Friday said the global warming bill the House is debating today is only a start, not the end of efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions.

The president, after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also said he remains concerned about post-election violence in Iran, but did not go as far as Mrs. Merkel, who said the international community must help to identify victims who were beaten, arrested or killed by the Iranian government.

And the president said that even with attacks growing ahead of Tuesday's deadline for U.S. troops to leave Iraqi cities, President Obama said the security situation there remains dramatically improved and the key problem is political reconciliation, not violence.

"Iraq's security situation has continued to dramatically improve," Mr. Obama said, adding that violence is at "a much, much lower level" now --a recognition of the progress made under the U.S. troop-led surge that began in 2007.

On global warming, Mr. Obama said the U.S. is beginning to catch up to European nations, who have committed to tougher caps than the Americans. But Mr. Obama said the House bill --which is already more than many lawmakers say they can accept -- is only a beginning to what the U.S. must do.

"There's going to be more to do," he said, adding that the U.S. will have to be more clear about its international obligations.

"I'm the first one to acknowledge that the United States over the last several years has not been where we need to be. We're not going to get there all in one fell swoop," he said.

Mrs. Merkel refused to get involved in U.S. political wrangling, but praised the president, saying she believes he is committed to meeting international calls for the U.S. to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases.

Much has been made of the two leaders' relationship. They have disagreed over the pace and style of action on the international financial collapse, and Mrs. Merkel went further than Mr. Obama in criticizing the Iranian regime in the wake of post-elections violence.

That continued Friday, as Mrs. Merkel said the international community will try to identify the victims of the violence.

"Iran can't count on the world community turning a blind eye," she said through a translator. Mr. Obama nodded as he listened to the translation.

For his part the president said the elections violence will have an effect on international negotiations aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, though he said he doesn't know how they will be affected.