KIRIBATI REJECTS AUSSIE PITCH, BACKS WHALING

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SYDNEY, Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corp) - The Pacific island nation of Kiribati has refused to give Australia a commitment to back a campaign to stop scientific whaling.

The refusal is being seen as a setback to Australia's global campaign to end whaling.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell met the ministerial delegation from Kiribati overnight.

The Fisheries Minister said his country supports Japan's scientific whaling and remains neutral on its push to resume a commercial hunt.

Senator Campbell says it is two weeks until the International Whaling Commission meeting in St. Kitts so there is still time to secure their vote.

A country likely to support Japan's push to resume commercial whaling, Guatemala has signed up to the International Whaling Commission.

Meanwhile, the Marshall Islands is the latest country to confirm that it is signing up to the International Whaling Commission.

Two ministers from the Marshall Islands Government met an Australian delegation to discuss the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

The Pacific nation is not a member of the Commission, but this morning it confirmed it is in the process of joining.

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said his meeting was productive.

The Marshall Islands cabinet will now meet to discuss whether or not it will support the pro or anti-whaling camps when the IWC meets in the Caribbean in two weeks.

June 1, 2006

ABC News Online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/

© 2006 ABC. All Rights Reserved

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