Jo'burg talks advance amid "realistic optimism"

Deal over fisheries struck; disagreements confirmed over farm subsidies, trade and finance, energy

Delegates from some 190 countries represented at the Johannesburg summit on sustainable development concluded their second day of negotiations yesterday, having agreed a further 38 paragraphs of the crucial action plan intended to be the event's main output (EED 26/08/02).

Nevertheless, only one major political issue was solved, with finalisation of a section of the text dealing with fisheries. In an early victory for the EU, which is pushing for concrete targets and timetables in the action plan, delegates backed a commitment to maintain or restore fisheries to their maximum sustainable yield by 2015. The alternative, more vague wording had been to achieve this goal "on an urgent basis".

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