WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Monday a team of experts visiting Tokyo next week will press Japan to adopt import regulations based on international guidelines and lift its 16-month-old import ban on U.S. beef.

With the team also traveling to South Korea, Johanns released a statement saying, “We look forward to these opportunities in South Korea and Japan to further demonstrate the safety of U.S. beef, and our system complies with international science-based guidelines for trade.”

The team, led by Charles Lambert, a deputy agriculture undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, was to visit South Korea from Tuesday to Friday and Japan from Monday to April 27.

“Members of the delegation will encourage both governments to adopt import regulations that are in close compliance with the World Organization for Animal Health guidelines,” the department said.

The organization is currently moving toward easing its trade guidelines regarding mad cow disease.

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