By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has invited the leaders of China and Russia to participate in a global summit on climate change in April, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin were among 40 world leaders invited to the April 22-23 summit, according to a White House statement.
Biden told reporters he had not yet spoken to the two leaders about it, "but they know they're invited."
Biden's Earth Day global summit on climate is part of his effort to elevate climate change as a top priority. It will be held virtually given pandemic restrictions and will be live-streamed for public viewing.
Climate change is one area U.S. officials believe it is possible to do business with China and Russia, despite deep differences on a host of other issues.
At his first solo news conference since taking office, Biden on Thursday called Xi and Putin supporters of autocracy.
The White House statement said a key goal of the Earth Day summit and a separate gathering in the Scottish city of Glasgow in November will be to galvanize efforts to keep within reach a goal of limiting planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Biden, speaking as he departed the White House for a weekend at his Delaware home, also said he had just spoken with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, indicating the subject was also the climate summit.
Climate was also a topic when Biden spoke to European leaders on Thursday in a virtual summit of the European Council.
The Biden administration is expected to announce what the White House called "an ambitious 2030 target" for reducing carbon emissions by the time of the summit.
Any target Biden announces is likely to face opposition from Republicans concerned that the Democratic president will sacrifice jobs and economic growth while pursuing his climate plans.
Biden is urging world leaders to use the summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries will contribute to reduced emissions, the White House said.
The summit will bring together 17 countries responsible for 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP. The invitee list of 40 nations includes Canada and Mexico as well as allies in Europe and Asia as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and South Africa.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Eric Beech, Editing by Franklin Paul and Alistair Bell)