US climate envoy John Kerry is heading to China for talks between the world’s two biggest carbon emitters ahead of President Joe Biden’s climate summit of world leaders.
Mr Kerry will travel to Shanghai and Seoul, from Wednesday to Saturday, the State Department said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The former secretary of state has been expected to talk with China’s top climate negotiator, fellow veteran diplomat Xie Zhenhua.
The trip marks the highest-level travel to China known so far for officials of the Biden administration.
The governments of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Biden are sparring over trade, human rights within China and China’s increasingly assertive actions in the larger Indo-Pacific, among other points of tension.
But China is the largest contributor by far of climate-damaging fumes from burning petroleum and coal, making its cooperation essential to any success of global climate accords.
Mr Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Mr Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, to participate in a virtual climate summit on April 22 and 23.
The US and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions ahead of or at the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.
Mr Kerry has been pressing global leaders in person and over the internet ahead of the summit for commitments and alliances on climate efforts.
Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 UN Paris climate accords as one of his first actions.
That makes the April summit the first major international climate discussions by a US leader in more than four years, although leaders in Europe and elsewhere have kept up talks.