Australia, Japan FMs meet on whaling

20:27, February 21, 2010      

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Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith met visiting Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on Sunday for talks on issues including whaling, regional security and nuclear disarmament.

Okada said on Sunday Australia's call of a deadline for Japan to end whaling should be discussed thoroughly within the context of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and bilaterally.

"The point I would make is I think it's very unfortunate the Australian side has indicated its intention to take action in an international court," Okada told reporters in Perth.

"Should court action become a reality, then Japan will seek to represent its case to the IWC supporting the fact that its activities are legal and within the convention."

Smith said the Australian government had thought very carefully about the issue and Australia would pursue a proposal with the IWC to see whaling in the Great Southern Ocean phased out over a "reasonable period of time".

"And that is a position that we will put to the IWC in the very near future, potentially as early as tomorrow," Smith said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met Katsuya Okada on Saturday where the pair had "a frank discussion on whaling."

A spokesman for the Australian prime minister said in a statement that Rudd and Okada, who arrived in Australia for a two- day visit, held broad-ranging talks that included "a frank discussion on whaling."

"They agreed on the deep and strong links that had been developed over many decades of friendly and mutually beneficial relations," the statement said.

Rudd said last Friday that Australia was pursuing Japan through diplomatic channels, but had set a November deadline for it to halt its so-called scientific whaling program in the Southern Ocean.

Rudd said if that fails, Australia will initiate court action before the commencement of the whaling season in November 2010.

Source: Xinhua
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