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Nations reach preliminary deal on payments as climate talks near end

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Governments around the world reached a preliminary deal Saturday on paying the most vulnerable nations for the damage they’re suffering from climate change, negotiators said near the end of talks here.

Seve Paeniu, finance minister of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, confirmed Saturday that a deal had been reached to create a fund for payments, one of the most contentious issues at this month’s United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

Such an agreement would be a significant reversal from the United States, which for decades has opposed the idea of paying countries for climate damage out of concern it would expose the world’s largest climate change driver to legal action. But it capitalizes on President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, which has sought to ensure that those most vulnerable to pollution and rising seas, hotter temperatures and deeper drought receive assistance.

The talks in Egypt set the stage for more conclusive negotiations at the next U.N. climate summit, scheduled for late 2023 in the United Arab Emirates. Those talks will try to develop more details on the design of the new fund.

But with major aspects of the negotiations still ongoing in Sharm El-Sheikh, particularly on a program to encourage steeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who is leading the talks, cautioned against banking any single aspect of the agreement.

“I don’t want to speculate or to prejudice the ongoing discussions and negotiations,” he said.

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