(ENS) WASHINGTON, DC --
of State Colin Powell will lead the American delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from August 26 through September 4. President George W. Bush made the announcement August 19, giving no explanation as to why he will not be attending the summit to join 106 other world leaders on the speaker's podium.
Secretary Powell will be joined by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Todd Whitman, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality James Connaughton, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios, and Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, the President said.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development is sponsored by the United Nations as a ten- year followup to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which was attended by then President George H.W. Bush, father of the current President.
Other heads of government and heads of state who are on the speakers list in Johannesburg include all the other leaders of G8 countries -- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi and Russia's Vladimir Putin among them.
has been under pressure from Republican Party and conservative lobbyists not to attend the summit.
A letter to Bush made public by Friends of the Earth UK shows the nature of that pressure. Dated August 2, the letter is signed by 31 political groups and individuals. It says “We applaud your decision not to attend the summit in person."
"Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992," the letter says, "the Johannesburg Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in critical international economic and environmental issues. Your presence would only help to publicize and make more credible various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas.”
The lobbyists' letter states that “the least important global environmental issue is potential global warming, and we hope that your negotiators at Johannesburg can keep it off the table and out of the spotlight.”
In his announcement August 19, President Bush said the U.S. team will offer plans that "advance the new approach to development that I embraced with other national leaders at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development this past May."
"This new approach is based on shared accountability among developed and developing nations," the President said.
"The U.S. delegation will come to Johannesburg with concrete and practical proposals for strong and lasting partnerships to advance some of the world's key development priorities -- clean water, modern energy, good health, and productive agriculture -- that can lead us to a world without poverty," said President Bush.
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