At international talks underway on protecting endangered species, the Bush administration has announced that it is “neutral” and “undecided” in the debate over whether to restrict trade in big-leaf mahogany from Latin America. The U.S. position since the time of George Bush the Elder had been to call for stricter limits on trade in the wood. The chief U.S. negotiator attending current negotiations in Santiago, Chile, at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species said the shift would better allow the country to broker a deal with countries that export mahogany. But Curtis Bohlen, who was assistant secretary of state for environmental affairs in the first Bush administration, said the current decision “would be viewed as backsliding” and would undermine any attempts to limit mahogany trade. The U.S. is the world’s number one importer of mahogany.