Japan and Mexico have decided to upgrade their talks on a bilateral free-trade agreement in Tokyo to the Cabinet level on Monday in a bid to seek a political breakthrough.

The move came Sunday after the two countries failed at working-level discussions starting Wednesday to make progress over contentious issues such as whether to include pork and leather in a list of farm products to be exempt from tariffs under the FTA, Japanese officials said.

The two nations also remained apart on industrial products and government procurement as the Mexican side has called for excluding cargo vehicles from the tariff-exemption list.

The Cabinet-level talks could continue into Tuesday, the officials said.

Shoichi Nagakawa, the minister of economy, trade and industry, and Mexican Economy Secretary Fernando Canales will meet at noon Monday for about an hour, the officials said.

Negotiations between Canales and farm minister Yoshiyuki Kamei are scheduled for Monday evening, they said.

The two nations have been working to include a basic FTA agreement in a joint statement to be adopted during a summit Thursday between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Vincente Fox, who is coming to Tokyo on Wednesday.

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