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Trump expected to leave climate deal — but with ‘caveats’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw the United States from a landmark global climate agreement, a White House official said Wednesday, though Trump and aides were looking for “caveats in the language” related to the exit and had not made a final decision.

“I’m hearing from a lot of people both ways,” Trump told reporters as he welcomed Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the White House. He said he’d be announcing his decision “very soon.”

Leaving the deal would fulfill a central campaign pledge but would anger international allies who spent years in difficult negotiations that produced an accord to reduce carbon emissions.

Trump faced considerable pressure to hold to the deal during visits with European leaders and Pope Francis on his recent trip abroad. The president and his aides were finalizing the details of a pullout, an official said, insisting on anonymity to discuss the decision before an official announcement.

While Trump currently favors an exit, he has been known to change his thinking on major decisions and tends to seek counsel from a range of inside and outside advisers, many with differing agendas, until the last minute.

A second White House official, who was not authorized to discuss private conversations and also insisted on anonymity, said Trump had not made a final decision on how to proceed.

Trump’s top aides have been divided.

He was to meet later Wednesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has favored remaining in the agreement. Chief strategist Steve Bannon supports an exit, as does Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt. Senior adviser Jared Kushner generally thinks the deal is bad but would like to find a way to see if U.S. emissions targets can be changed.

Trump’s influential daughter Ivanka Trump’s preference is to stay, but she made it a priority to establish a review process so her father heard from all sides, said one of the officials.

Nearly 200 nations, including the United States under President Barack Obama’s administration, agreed in 2015 to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to combat climate change. Withdrawing would leave the United States aligned only with Russia among the world’s industrialized economies.

A senior European Union official said the EU and China would reaffirm their commitment to the pact regardless of what Trump did, and would spell out, during talks Friday in Brussels, how they would meet their obligations. The official, who is involved in preparing the meeting between EU officials and China’s premier, was not authorized to speak publicly and discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because the meeting statement was not finalized.

News of Trump’s expected decision drew swift reaction from the United Nations. The organization’s main Twitter page quoted Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as saying, “Climate change is undeniable. Climate change is unstoppable. Climate solutions provide opportunities that are unmatchable.”