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Denmark invites 191 leaders to climate summit

Denmark has officially invited 191 heads of state and government to the United Nations’ climate summit in Copenhagen next month.

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The office of the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen confirmed the invitations to the December gathering were made via Denmark’s diplomatic missions.

“Your personal attendance is a pivotal contribution to a successful outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference,” Rasmussen wrote in the invitation.

The official invite marks an additional push on global leaders to attend the much anticipated conference.

“Our joint efforts will be judged by the citizens of the world on December 18 when we close the conference,” the letter said.

During preparatory talks held in Barcelona last week, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer urged world leaders to attend the summit.

“I have never before witnessed a moment in time when this issue has been so high on the agenda of world leaders,” he told reporters.

“We must capitalise on that in Copenhagen by inviting world leaders to give the Copenhagen outcome the final push and get us to a result.” Despite the fact the formal invitation was only made on Thursday, de Boer said 40 heads of state and government were already tipped to attend.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is on that list, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Lula Inacio da Silva.

UN climate conferences are usually attended by environment ministers rather than heads of state and government, but the stakes in Copenhagen are such that world leaders have been urged to attend.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly encouraged all heads of state and government to attend the key talks in Copenhagen.

Ban “believes that direct head of state and government involvement is essential for governments to reach agreement on the core issues at the heart of a global climate change deal,” a UN statement said.

Environmental group Greenpeace also lauded the official invitation. “Some heads of state have been ducking the question about going to the Copenhagen Climate Summit by saying no formal invitation has come from Denmark,” said Greenpeace Denmark spokesperson Tove Ryding.

“That excuse is now gone.” The Copenhagen marathon is designed to climax a two-year process of negotiations leading to a worldwide agreement for tackling climate change beyond 2012.