President Obama on Saturday announced that the United States is initiating a Major Economies Forum that will focus on energy and climate change, an attempt to bring the world’s biggest polluters together to discuss a path forward.

“The Major Economies Forum will facilitate a candid dialogue among key developed and developing countries, help generate the political leadership necessary to achieve a successful outcome at the U.N. climate change negotiations that will convene this December in Copenhagen, and advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” said the White House in a statement.

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Seventeen nations and the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, will participate in the forum. A first meeting between designated officials will be held at the Department of State April 27 and 28 in Washington, D.C., followed by a meeting of the heads of state in La Maddalena, Italy, in July 2009.

The participating countries will be Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and, of course, the United States. Since Denmark is hosting the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting on Copenhagen in December, it’s also been invited along.

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