Trump's position on Paris deal wavering amid confusion
IN A stunning about-face, the Trump administration will not pull out of the Paris climate deal after all, according to a European Union official.
The United States will "not renegotiate the Paris Accord," but instead will review its terms, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete told the Wall Street Journal.
White House senior adviser Everett Eissenstat unveiled the new US position at a meeting Saturday, the Journal said.
But the White House issued a sharp denial.
"There has been no change in the United States' position on the Paris agreement," said Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters.
"As the president has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favourable to our country."
Whether or not the Trump administration stays in the climate accord, the US is expected to significantly reduce its ambition to curb greenhouse-gas emissions - in line with President Trump's goal of clinching "fairer terms" in the deal, the Journal reported.
The report comes three months after Trump said the US would pull out of the pact and renegotiate terms.
It also capped a week when Trump's overtures toward Democratic leaders on immigration and tax policy rattled some supporters and cast doubt on the fate of his core campaign promises.
"I really didn't see this coming," said Staten Island City Councilman Joe Borelli, who was a Trump surrogate during the campaign. "I find it another surprising turn in a surprising week."
It comes just days after some of Trump's strongest supporters are talking about "impeachment" after he struck a deal with some of the Republicans' arch enemies.
The US President sat down on Wednesday night with some of his staunchest critics - top Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi - to discuss immigration issues.
He invited Senator Schumer and Ms Pelosi to the White House to resolve the contentious issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy that saved nearly 800,000 foreigners who illegally entered American soil as minors from being kicked out of the country.
That decision led to a backlash against the President.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter - who once wrote a book called In Trump We Trust - was incensed, going so far as to tweet "At this point, who DOESN'T want Trump impeached?"
Trump announced on June 1 that the US would withdraw from the 2015 pact, saying it imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers.
He called the deal signed by 195 nations "draconian," and vowed to stand with the people of the United States to negotiate a better deal for them.
"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," the president said at the time.
It was seen as his most sweeping assertion of an "America first" foreign-policy doctrine since taking office - and as a victory for Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who was fired in August.
Under the accord reached during President Barack Obama's administration, the United States had pledged to slash greenhouse gas emissions and commit up to $US3 billion in aid for poorer countries by 2020.
The decision to leave the agreement drew support from many Republicans, but condemnation from the other side of the aisle and around the world.
Several governors and mayors, including New York's Bill de Blasio, announced plans to meet the standards of the Paris agreement in their respective states and cities without the leadership of the federal government.
Trump's seemingly fluid foreign policy will take centre stage this week as he plunges into the first United Nations General Assembly of his presidency.
His packed New York City schedule includes a highly anticipated speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, and the traditional US-hosted diplomatic reception that evening.
The president will discuss North Korea over lunch with the leaders of South Korea and Japan, talk Middle East policy with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Emmanuel Macron of France, hold sessions with leaders from Latin America and Africa.
Trump will also advocate for UN funding reforms - another issue he raised during the 2016 campaign.