17 Jun 2010

Marshall Islands accuses Sunday Times of whaling distortion

7:23 pm on 17 June 2010

The Marshall Islands foreign minister is accusing a major British newspaper of falsification and distortion following a report that the Marshalls supports Japan's stance on whaling because of aid.

A Sunday Times undercover investigation found officials from six countries, including the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, willing to consider selling their votes on the International Whaling Commission, which meets next week in Morocco.

Since the 1980s Japan has been the second largest aid donor behind the United States, the Marshall Islands' primary diplomatic partner.

However the foreign minister, John Silk, says the Marshall Islands is a sovereign nation determining its own government policies and its vote is not for sale.

Our correspondent in the Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson, says he's surprised at the vehemence of the denial.

"It was a certainly a reasonable thing to say that aid is a determining factor in all this. I mean, she wasn't talking about bribes and a whole bunch of other stuff and I have no idea about what people from other countries were talking about, many other issues."

Our correspondent in the Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson.