ants said they were pleased with the discussions on a plan that Ireland put forward in October to ban whaling on the high seas but allow some hunting in coastal areas for local consumption and under the strict control of the IWC. "There was a full and frank exchange of views on the elements of the Irish proposal. The fundamental positions of the government were maintained, but progress was made in reaching a better understanding," a statement said. Ireland was driven to try to forge a compromise after the global tally of whale kills surged to 1,043 in 1997 -- almost double the catch of 10 years earlier -- despite the international moratorium on commercial whaling since 1982. Pro-whaling countries, led by Japan, want to resume commercial whaling. Other nations, including the United States and Britain, supported by a number of nongovernmental organizations and pressure groups, want the 15-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling to stay intact. The two sides have been at impasse for years.