The Canadian government promises not to play an obstructionist role in the current round of climate talks in South Africa.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said Tuesday that Canada won't stand in the way of other countries that want to continue with the Kyoto Protocol.

"We will not obstruct those who want to take a second commitment of Kyoto," Kent told a news conference in Montreal.

"We are going to argue in favour of a new agreement, which will eclipse Kyoto."

Observers say that even if Canada pulls out, it could continue to be a negotiator on the next climate-change deal and seek to water down the accord for those who stay on.

For the second day in a row, Kent wouldn't deny reports that Canada plans to withdraw from the 1997 Kyoto agreement.

He dodged several questions on why he won't clearly state the government's intentions on Kyoto, before replying: "Because we're going in good faith to encourage a new agreement."

Kent said Canada won't make a second commitment to Kyoto because the accord doesn't include some of the world's biggest emitters, like the United States, India and China.

He reiterated the Conservative government's position that Kyoto is the "greatest blunder that the previous Liberal government made."

The environment minister made the remarks after announcing a 15-year agreement with Quebec to protect the St. Lawrence River.