WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Japan and the United States remained at odds at a high-level meeting Friday on getting Tokyo to relax its criteria for American beef imports, a Japanese official said.

The one-day economic dialogue, which also covered energy security, intellectual property rights and global trade liberalization, was aimed at laying the groundwork for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the U.S. set for April 26 and 27.

The U.S. team urged Japan to ease its mad cow disease-related controls on imports once a global animal disease watchdog officially approves the safety status of U.S. beef in May as widely anticipated, the official said.

The Japanese delegation reiterated that the U.S. should accept additional Japanese inspections of meatpacking factories there to verify compliance with rules for shipping beef to Japan under an earlier bilateral agreement.

It also called on the U.S. side to report to Japan on a meatpacking plant’s shipment that contained meat possibly violating the bilaterally agreed terms.

Tokyo suspended beef imports from the facility Friday, following a similar incident in February.

Some of the 2 tons of ox tongue, shipped by Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.’s Dodge City plant in Kansas, may have been taken from cattle aged older than 20 months, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said in a joint announcement.

The 250 boxes of meat arrived in Kobe port March 20. Japanese authorities discovered Tuesday that four of the 250 boxes were without certification by the U.S. government necessary for their import.

Japan was the biggest foreign market for U.S. beef before the first U.S. case of mad cow disease , or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was found in December 2003. Among other issues, Japan and the U.S. reaffirmed the importance of collaborating in helping bring the troubled Doha Round of multilateral market-opening talks under the World Trade Organization, according to the official.

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