U.S. President Barack Obama has launched a 17-nation Major Economies Forum to address energy and climate change issues in his effort to achieve a new agreement ahead of this year's Copenhagen conference to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012, reports say.

Leaders of the new forum have been invited to Washington for a preparatory session April 27-28, to be followed by another meeting in Italy in July.

The White House said that the new forum will facilitate a candid dialogue among key developed and developing countries and help generate the political leadership necessary to achieve a successful outcome in Copenhagen. The idea is to advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gases, it said.

Besides the U.S. the economies represented on the new forum are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, the European Union, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Denmark, as the President of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the U.N. have also been invited to participate in this dialogue.

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