17 Jun 2005

Solomons whaling stance yet to be clarified

4:30 pm on 17 June 2005

There's uncertainty about whether a fresh pledge by Solomon Islands to support Japan in the international arena amounts to a change of mind over commercial whaling.

Japan asked the Solomons to clarify its position early this week after the Government said it would abstain at a key vote on commercial whaling next week.

Japanese officials arrived in Honiara for the first ever bilateral aid talks between the countries, meetings Honiara said had been planned for some time.

This comes just days before a key vote at the International Whaling Commission in South Korea.

The aid talks led to a pledge by Japan to boost its contribution to more than 39 million US dollars this year.

The director of the government communications unit, Alfred Maesulia, says a Solomons Minister, Fred Fono, pledged in return to support Japan in the international arena.

Mr Maesulia says he understands Mr Fono's comments were not meant to cover whaling but applied to Japan's wish to become a member of the UN' Security Council.