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U.S., Japan Extend Talks Over Aviation Rights

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From Reuters

Japan and the United States are still far apart in their aviation dispute and the chances of an imminent agreement appear slim, but the two sides agreed Friday to extend their latest round of talks into a third day.

Japanese officials said the negotiators, who have held two days of scheduled talks in Tokyo to seek an end to the dispute, will meet again today despite the “considerable gap” between their positions.

The aviation wrangle revolves around Japan’s refusal to grant permission for U.S. carrier Federal Express Corp. to extend Asian routes involving Japan. Washington has said that if no deal were struck by Friday it would consider the option of sanctions on Japanese cargo carriers.

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“There is a considerable gap remaining between Japan and the United States . . . so we have decided to continue talks [today],” Japan’s Transport Minister Shizuka Kamei told a news conference.

But he said an agreement in the dispute, a continuing blot on U.S.-Japan trade relations after the countries managed to resolve their fight over cars, was still some way off. “I don’t think we will reach an agreement tomorrow.”

Japanese officials said the two-day vice-ministerial talks did not touch on the issue of sanctions.

Although the current round of talks will end today, both Tokyo and Washington intend to resume their dialogue at some time in the future, a Transport Ministry official said, adding that the date and venue for the next round of talks may also be discussed today.

U.S. negotiators declined to comment on the course of the discussions.

Japan is seeking more cargo flights from Japan to the United States for Japanese carriers in exchange for granting Federal Express’ application, the Transport Ministry officials said. They declined to comment on other requests from Japan and the United States.

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