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GENEVA (AP) — International trade in elephant ivory will remain banned, according to a vote at the World Wildlife Conference, known as CITES, in Switzerland.

Thursday's vote by a key committee makes it likely that the plenary session next week will uphold the prohibition of ivory sales.

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Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe had proposed they be allowed to sell government-owned ivory stockpiles, in a one-time sale followed by a six-year moratorium. The proposal was defeated with 101 countries opposing and 23 countries in support, with 18 abstentions.

Kenya and several other African countries opposed the proposal to lift the ban on ivory sales, arguing that even restricted, legal sales would fuel greater demand for elephant ivory on the international market. The African Elephant Coalition, representing 32 African countries, opposed allowing any ivory sales.

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