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P.M. BRIEFING : Breakthrough Offer Stirs New Hopes in U.S.-Japan Trade Talks

FROM TIMES WIRE SERVICES

Talks between Japan and the United States on structural trade reforms progressed today with a last-minute breakthrough on the issue of increasing Japan’s public works spending, officials said.

Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu conveyed Japan’s final offer on the issue to President Bush in a telephone conversation.

Bush said he will hear details of the talks from U.S. officials and expressed appreciation for Kaifu’s efforts, according to a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official.

“This represents a breakthrough,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Without an agreement on public works spending . . . I doubt we could finish the talks by (Thursday).”

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Foreign Ministry officials said they could not confirm reports that Japanese and U.S. officials had agreed on a final figure of $2.77 trillion in public works spending over the next 10 years.

Local media said Kaifu and other top Japanese officials, meeting in a last-ditch move to salvage the talks, had agreed to increase their original proposal of $2.68 trillion by $96.77 billion.


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