The farm ministry’s top bureaucrat denied on Monday suggestions by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman that Tokyo and Washington have come close to reaching an agreement to exclude young cows from mad cow tests.

“That is not factual,” Mamoru Ishihara, vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, told a news conference in reference to Veneman’s remark Thursday in Washington.

Veneman told a news conference, “We have concluded out of those technical discussions that we will move forward with an arrangement with the Japanese where they will not require testing of all ages of animals.”

Japan and the United States held three rounds of discussions in late July to break the impasse on the beef trade row.

Ishihara said, “We have not yet determined what to do with Japan-U.S. negotiations, including setting a schedule for further talks.”

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