22 Jun 2005

Solomons votes for whaling despite PM's decision to abstain

1:03 pm on 22 June 2005

The Solomons Islands delegation at the whaling conference in South Korea has voted for the resumption of commercial whaling despite the prime minister Sir Allan Kemakeza's decision to abstain.

Earlier this month, following a visit to Honiara by the Australian environment minister, Sir Allan said his government would abstain when the issue at the International Whaling Commission meeting was to be put to a vote.

But this week, the New Zealand environment minister, who is in South Korea, said the Solomons was firm in its new position and would vote with Japan.

Yesterday, the prime minister's office in Solomon Islands clarified the government position and re-stated that it would abstain.

But only hours later, Solomon Islands changed its position on commercial whaling again and voted for the Japanese bid.

It's not clear what prompted the change of position.

The vote in South Korea follows last week's first bilateral talks between Solomon Islands and Japan during which Tokyo pledged millions of dollars more in assistance.

In return, the Solomons government vowed to support Japan in international fora but declined to say whether this included whaling matters.

The Japanese position was also supported by Tuvalu and Palau.

Kiribati, China and South Korea abstained.