• The Associated Press

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A top major league baseball official met Tuesday with Japanese and South Korean commissioners to discuss their concerns about the proposed World Cup.

Japanese owners rejected a proposed plan last month to stage the first World Cup in March 2005, primarily because it would be too close to the start of their regular season in late March or early April.

“The meeting today was very positive,” said Bob DuPuy, major league baseball’s chief operating officer. “We discussed the issues facing each of our professional leagues in bringing the common goal of a World Cup tournament to fruition.”

If a deal can be reached, the 16-nation tournament would take place next March.

Japanese baseball officials also are said to object to the fact that profits from the tournament would be split between the U.S. commissioner’s office and the major league players union after expenses and payments to teams.

“We discussed the formation of a steering committee and each league agreed to bring the matter to its ownership for review and approval,” DuPuy said. “I was very happy with the outcome of the meeting.”

Japan’s owners will meet in September, while major league owners are scheduled to meet in Philadelphia on Aug. 18-19.

Before the All-Star break last month, DuPuy acknowledged there was little time to wrap up deals in order to stage a tournament next spring but that even if the tournament doesn’t start next March, baseball wants to keep to its original quadrennial schedule, which calls for holding subsequent World Cups in 2009 and 2013.

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