President Bush says he has "nothing to be apologetic for" when he goes to the Earth Summit this week despite the U.S. refusal to sign a global treaty to protect plants and wildlife.
Bush, at a Camp David news conference Sunday with British Prime Minister John Major, said his obligation is to protect American jobs as well as the environment.Bush also said he'd like to fire whoever leaked a memo that embarrassed his environmental chief, William K. Reilly, who was making a last-ditch effort to persuade the White House to sign on to the biodiversity treaty.
He called the leak "insidious" and asked reporters to "help me find (the leaker). He'd be gainfully unemployed."
Reilly said in an interview Monday on NBC's "Today" show from Rio that it wasn't his job "to pursue leakers."
At the White House, spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said there was no formal investigation into the source of the leak, "but we'd like to know." He also praised Reilly, saying, "He's doing a fine job. He represents our position very well."
Major, who just pulled his Conservative Party through a surprise,
come-from-behind victory in the British elections in April, offered a sympathetic ear to Bush on his own political difficulties.
Bush said he learned from Major to "just stay with it" and not to get discouraged by the polls.
Asked whether they had discussed the political threat from Texas billionaire Ross Perot, Bush said, "I cannot tell a lie. His name came up."
With three working days left, delegates to the Earth Summit in Rio turned to one of the trickiest issues at the gathering: who will pay to clean up and protect the environment.
Developing countries want industrialized nations to provide the money and allow recipient governments to decide how it will be spent.
The United States and other industrialized nations, however, are strapped by tight budgets and are unwilling to give up control over what funds they do provide.
Delegates from all 178 U.N. members resumed sessions Monday after a weekend recess. They were racing to complete three treaties by Wednesday so that they are ready for the more than 116 heads of state, including Bush, who is to arrive Friday.
Delegates also were crafting the Rio Declaration of environmental principles, which include the principle that polluters must pay for cleaning up their own pollution, and a document called Agenda 21 that spells out how the principles would be enacted and enforced.
The summit's coordinator, Maurice Strong of Canada, says cleanup costs could top $125 billion a year.
Delegates also were lobbying for signatures for two treaties finished last week, one on global warming and the other to protect plant and animal species in danger of extinction.