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DUBAI: Sultan Al Jaber, the incoming president of the United Arab Emirates-hosted COP28 climate summit, on Wednesday rejected accusations the host country planned to discuss natural gas and other commercial deals in meetings linked to the U.N. talks.

The BBC and the Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) on Monday said leaked briefing documents prepared for Jaber showed plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 countries.

“These allegations are false, not true, incorrect, are not accurate. And it’s an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency,” Jaber told a news conference, his first public remarks following the BBC report.

“I promise you, never ever did I see these talking points that they refer to or that I ever even used such talking points in my discussions.”

‘Tax the bad’ to boost climate finance, COP28 panel advises

A COP28 spokesperson told Reuters that on Monday the documents were “inaccurate” and “unverified”.

Jaber’s selection to lead COP28, which begins on Thursday and runs until Dec. 12, has drawn criticism from climate activists, who are concerned he will be unable to take the neutral stance required of a COP president.

He holds a number of senior government and business positions, including chief executive of state oil giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). He is also a cabinet minister. The UAE is a major crude producer and a leading member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Jaber has presented himself as a mediator between both sides of the fossil fuel divide, with a healthy desire to include the oil and gas industry in the climate debate.

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