US to prepare to send staff to Japan for beef talks: Vilsack
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 08, 2010, 18:05
Kofu (Japan): Visiting US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that Washington will prepare to send officials to Japan as part of efforts to ease Tokyo's restrictions on US beef imports because of mad cow disease concerns.

"During the conversation, we agreed that...we should be prepared to send people from the United States to Japan in near future" and try to explore the possibility the countries could "get on the same track," Vilsack said in an interview with Kyodo News after meeting with Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu in Tokyo.

Vilsack held the interview on the way from Tokyo to Yamanashi Prefecture where he was scheduled to visit a livestock farm and meet prefectural officials.

In their meeting earlier in the day, Vilsack and Akamatsu agreed to resume bilateral dialogue, which has been stalled since 2007, to solve the lingering dispute over Japan's import controls, said Japanese officials.

Japan currently bans imports of US beef from cattle aged over 20 months.

The Japanese government has been "very clear" in terms of its position on the issue, Vilsack said, adding that the United States wants to "express a willingness to be more flexible."

Japan has restricted US beef imports since the first US case of the disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was found in 2003.


First Published: Thursday, April 08, 2010, 18:05

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