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Whaling commission closes meeting, Japan mulls separate meeting 'of the willing'

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts and Nevis -- The International Whaling Commission ended its annual meeting Tuesday, with Japan, unhappy with the moratorium on commercial whaling, considering "a meeting of the willing" outside the IWC for "normalizing" the whaling business.

On Monday, the commission elected William Hogarth, commissioner representing the United States, chair and Japanese commissioner Minoru Morimoto vice chair.

Next year's meeting will be held in Anchorage, Alaska in May, and the 2008 gathering is scheduled in Chile.

At the latest meeting that opened Friday on the Caribbean island, Japan and other pro-whaling nations attained a majority, albeit slim, for the first time, on a nonbinding resolution for lifting the moratorium on commercial whaling.

The St. Kitts and Nevis Declaration says, ''The moratorium, which was clearly intended as a temporary measure, is no longer necessary.'' It was adopted by a vote of 33-32.

Unhappy with not much progress made for lifting the moratorium, Japan proposed a meeting of willing countries outside the IWC framework to aim for "normalizing" commercial whaling.

Prospects are growing that the meeting would take place in Japan around February next year, Japanese officials said.

Japanese commissioner Morimoto said he would give the second- best rating to the results of the latest meeting on a scale of three. "The road ahead for normalization is still long but the direction of the wind has changed. We hope to further strengthen the unity" of the pro-whaling camp, he said.


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