Japan and the United States are set to hold high-level talks in Tokyo on Thursday and Friday aimed at lifting the ban on U.S. beef imports, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Japan is expected to explain to the United States the current review of its policy to test all cattle for mad cow disease, amid hopes the discussions will pave the way to resume imports possibly by spring, ministry sources said.

Since last week, the government’s Food Safety Commission has been studying whether it is feasible to exempt cows aged 20 months and younger from testing for the disease after the U.S. rejected blanket testing.

The U.S. is expected to express its appreciation for Japan’s efforts to strike a deal on the issue, the sources said.

The two sides are also expected to discuss scientific procedures for determining an animal’s age, the sources said.

These will be first high-level discussions on the issue since April.

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