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Ministers from the Group of Eight industrial powers have decided to accept a Japanese proposal that advocates flexible use of national oil reserves to maintain stable oil prices, Japanese sources said Friday.

The G8 ministers were to endorse the proposal via a statement scheduled for release late Friday, following a meeting in Detroit aimed at exploring ways to secure stable energy supplies during emergencies, the sources said.

Energy ministers from Japan’s G8 partners — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States — will assess international energy markets. They will focus on the tension in the Middle East and the suspension of Iraqi oil exports, and will discuss emergency responses and measures to cope with long-term energy security issues.

At an energy forum held the previous day in Detroit, trade minister Takeo Hiranuma proposed that member countries of the International Energy Agency coordinate the use of oil stockpiles in the case of supply disruptions.

The Paris-based IEA is an autonomous agency linked with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that serves as an energy forum for 26 member countries.

IEA member governments are committed to taking joint measures to meet oil supply emergencies, and have also agreed to share energy information, coordinate their energy policies and cooperate in developing effective energy programs.

In the G8 meeting, Hiranuma was to renew his call to make national oil stockpiles available not only during oil supply stoppages but also at times when prices surge or fears of supply-stoppage emerge, the sources said.

The ministerial meeting was to follow Thursday’s G8 Energy Forum session of business leaders and energy experts. The two-day gathering in Detroit is the first G8 meeting to focus on energy since a gathering in Moscow in 1998.

The G8 ministers will also agree on the importance of enhancing dialogue between oil-producing and oil-consuming countries to ensure stable energy supplies, the sources said.

As part of such efforts, Japan will host an international ministerial meeting of oil exporters and importers in Osaka in September.

The ministers will also stress the importance of promoting technological innovations in the energy sector in view of diversifying energy resources and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, the sources said.

U.S. backs fusion bid

DETROIT (Kyodo) U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, on Thursday that the United States is ready to rejoin an international project aimed at developing fusion energy, a Japanese official said.

Hiranuma reiterated Japan’s call for Washington to rejoin the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, and Abraham said President George W. Bush instructed him to give serious consideration to U.S. participation, according to the official.

Abraham told Hiranuma the U.S. government will reach a conclusion on the issue at an early date.

The ITER project is designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy for peaceful purposes. The U.S. took part in the project until 1998.

Scientists and engineers from the current members of Canada, Europe, Japan and Russia hope to complete the project by 2013.

Hiranuma and Abraham are in Detroit to attend a two-day Group of Eight energy meeting that started Thursday.

The Japanese official said Hiranuma also asked the U.S. to return to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on mandatory cuts of emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by industrialized countries.

The Bush administration pulled out of the pact in March 2001 and announced an alternative approach three months ago, calling for emissions reductions through market-based voluntary efforts.

While acknowledging the importance of coping with global warming, Abraham said the U.S. will deal with the issue mainly through technological innovations, according to the Japanese official.

Hiranuma and Abraham agreed on the active use of nuclear power to combat global warming and diverse energy resources.

In response to a Japanese request, Abraham pledged support for an international ministerial meeting to be hosted by Japan in September to promote dialogue between oil-producing and consuming countries.

Hiranuma also met separately with Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal and Italian Productive Activities Minister Antonio Marzano on the sidelines of the G8 meeting.

Yusufov told Hiranuma that Russia will soon present a written proposal to Japan for a project to lay pipelines and export natural gas from Siberia via Nakhodka, the official said.

Dhaliwal and Marzano exchanged views with Hiranuma on a range of matters, including flexible use of oil reserves and the Kyoto Protocol.

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