Schwarzenegger, Blair to meet in London next week

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will travel to London on Sunday, two days before British Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves office, to reciprocate a visit Blair made to California.

The Austrian-born Schwarzenegger promised to meet Blair in London after the prime minister traveled to Long Beach last summer to announce a trans-Atlantic alliance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Schwarzenegger and Blair will meet privately to discuss the compact, the governor's press secretary, Aaron McLear, said Tuesday. Schwarzenegger also is expected to speak publicly, but his schedule for the two-day trip has not yet been made final, McLear said.

Blair has been criticized for orchestrating an elaborate farewell tour of meetings with global leaders. He is scheduled to step down as prime minister on June 27 and will be replaced by Treasury chief Gordon Brown.

It is unclear what promises on global warming the outgoing prime minister and Schwarzenegger might commit to during their meeting.

Environmental groups have said the trans-Atlantic alliance is largely symbolic. The agreement calls for collaboration on research into cleaner-burning fuels and into the possibility of setting up a system for companies to buy and sell credits so they can continue releasing greenhouse gases.

Critics say such a plan could dilute California's goal of reducing such emissions 25 percent by 2020. Schwarzenegger has since signed similar agreements with Australia and a province in Canada.

He plans to return to Britain in the fall to speak to the country's Conservative Party, which recently replaced its traditional red, white and blue torch logo with an environmentally friendly green tree.

Since taking office, Schwarzenegger has traveled to Israel, Jordan, Germany, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Mexico and Canada. He also plans to travel to India later this year.