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Snag on voting ends hope for sea-law pact this year

Delegates to the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea have abandoned hope of completing a final treaty text this year. But they feel "substantive issues" may be settled so a final text can be put together next year.

The big outstanding issue concerns voting procedures in the council that will authorize and share out the benefits form the deep seabed mining of valuable minerals. Advanced industrial nations such as the United States which have the means to conduct such mining operations refuse to subject themselves to decisions made by any automatic majority of other countries.

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