U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker expressed optimism Wednesday that Japan’s ban on U.S. beef imports may end soon.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with farm minister Yoshiyuki Kamei, Baker expressed his strong hope of a resumption of imports of U.S. beef, saying ongoing technical talks by experts from the two countries may be concluded by this summer.

In the meeting with Kamei, Baker said bilateral negotiations on the issue have been proceeding in the right direction, suggesting that conditions for lifting the import ban will possibly be finalized in August, according to officials at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

Baker reportedly said that he sees Kamei’s calls for the United States to likewise lift its ban on beef imports from Japan as a fair request.

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