Japan and Thailand have struck a basic deal on the contentious farm products segment of trade talks, Japanese government sources said Wednesday.

The deal is a major step toward striking a bilateral free-trade agreement as early as next month, the sources said.

The farm accord was reached during three-day vice ministerial-level negotiations being held until Thursday in Thailand, according to the sources.

Although marked differences remain on steel and other industrial products, Tokyo and Bangkok plan to accelerate talks in the coming weeks to reach a full agreement as soon as possible, the sources said.

During the negotiations, Japan agreed to lower tariffs on Thai chicken imports.

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