US to prepare to send staff to Japan for beef talks: Vilsack
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
"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
Japan has restricted US beef imports since the first US
case of the disease, formally known as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, was found in 2003.