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23 June, 2008 - Published 11:13 GMT
International Whaling Commission convenes
The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission is getting underway in Santiago, with pro- and anti-whaling countries pledging to work together in a spirit of compromise. But as Richard Black reports, divisions remain as wide as ever:
Anti-whaling countries have been trying to browbeat Japan into dropping its whaling programmes for more than 20 years and it hasn't really worked. So now some, led by the US, are trying a new approach of engagement - looking for common interests where they exist, and seeking constructive solutions where they don't.
The end result could be a future deal where some commercial whaling is permitted in return for Japan dropping its Antarctic scientific hunt. Some anti-whaling governments have deep reservations about the new strategy. But conservation groups are divided. Some believe it's worth pursuing a compromise that could result in fewer whales being killed each year, whereas others argue that a total global ban is the only goal worth fighting for.
When the meeting opens, Chile's president Michelle Bachelet is due to announce the establishment of a whale sanctuary along the country's coast, and the wider Latin American group of countries wants a sanctuary throughout the entire south Atlantic. Pro-hunting nations have historically opposed the creation of whale sanctuaries; and the new mood of peace here may not survive the introduction of these key issues.
Richard Black, BBC News, Santiago
in return for
have deep reservations about
pursuing a compromise
is due to
a whale sanctuary
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