• Kyodo News

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U.S. Ambassador John Roos hinted Wednesday that Washington expects Japan to participate in a Pacific free-trade agreement, saying the deal would be important for bilateral ties, a government official said.

“The overall tone of (the ambassador’s remarks) was that the United States welcomes Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement,” the official said when briefing reporters on a meeting between Roos and trade chief Banri Kaieda.

Roos was quoted as telling Kaieda the TPP is an important agreement for the United States, and likely for Japan as well as for U.S.-Japan ties. He promised to offer necessary information and cooperation to Japan, which plans to decide by around June whether to join the negotiations for the pact.

Roos declined comment in detail after the talks, only telling reporters he and Kaieda had “a very productive meeting.”

Roos visited Kaieda partly to congratulate him for assuming the economy, trade and industry portfolio in a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.

At the outset of the meeting, Kaieda stressed the importance of bilateral ties in terms of security and economics.

The TPP negotiations are proceeding with nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including major agriculture exporters Australia and the U.S.

It is intended to require members to reduce in principle all tariffs to zero within 10 years, a tough condition for Japan and its relatively closed agricultural market.

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