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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman has proposed that the United States and Japan jointly ask the Paris-based Organization for Animal Health to issue a judgment on Tokyo’s ban on American beef imports, a senior Japanese farm ministry official said Thursday.

The proposal is mentioned in a letter from Veneman delivered to Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshiyuki Kamei on March 30, vice agriculture minister Mamoru Ishihara said.

Veneman said in the letter that the two governments should jointly ask the OIE to set up an expert panel to draw a conclusion by the end of this month on the beef import ban, imposed after the first case of mad cow disease in the U.S. came to light.

The OIE is tasked with guaranteeing the transparency of animal disease conditions around the globe.

The Japanese ministry will shortly write a reply rejecting the proposal because even OIE mediation is unlikely to persuade the U.S. to accept Japan’s request that all cattle be tested for mad cow disease, as is the case in Japan, before the import ban can be removed.

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