INTERNATIONAL

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

U.S., Japan Make Progress on Trade: Three months after a summit standoff, the two governments agreed to try to end the stalemate and strike a new economic deal. In a 30-minute telephone call, Japanese Foreign Minister Koji Kakizawa and U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor settled on the need for "preliminary contact"--a small step forward in their slow dance toward a trade deal. At issue is Japan's $131-billion trade surplus, which President Clinton says is corroding relations between the world's two biggest economies. Formal talks broke down Feb. 11 at a White House summit, and since then all bets have been off as Japan's government lurched from crisis to crisis.

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