Visiting Chilean Foreign Minister Maria Soledad Alvear, in a meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday, expressed her hopes that another panel be launched to look into the feasibility of a free-trade agreement with Japan.

Alvear indicated she would like to see the launch of a panel, following one set up earlier by private-sector officials, with the aim of further strengthening bilateral economic ties, according to a Japanese official.

Koizumi told the minister that a free-trade agreement with Chile is considered as a mid- to long-term issue and he would like to see dialogue held on how to approach it, the official said.

Koizumi also told Alvear he is looking forward to the visit next year of Chilean President Ricardo Lagos.

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