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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 20:30 GMT
EU and US seek fresh trade push
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and US President George W Bush
The talks were described as a 'good exchange' between both sides
European Union and US leaders have agreed to seek fresh ways of resolving differences over global trade talks.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso described talks with President George W Bush as a "defining moment" for the Doha trade round.

Disagreement over agriculture caused the Doha talks to be suspended in Geneva last year.

Mr Barroso said negotiators had been told to come up with a solution to the impasse "as soon as possible".

He described the talks in Washington on Monday as a "very good exchange" between the two sides.

President Bush said that both the US and the EU recognised that "the best way to help impoverished nations is to complete this Doha round to encourage the spread of wealth and opportunity through open and reasonable and fair trade".

Looming deadline

Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson has urged President Bush to push for a trade deal

European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson earlier said negotiations between the US and EU were on a "knife edge".

Brussels says US inflexibility is responsible for the breakdown between the two sides, while the US says Europe has failed to open up its markets. Pressure to reach a deal has been mounting as President Bush's special "fast-track" authority to negotiate US trade deals expires this year.

After 30 June 2007, Trade Promotion Authority will expire, giving the US Congress the right once again to change such agreements.

Mr Mandelson said he planned to push for the US to cut the $20bn it gives to farmers in subsidies.

In return, Europe was expected to offer further reductions in its tariffs.

The Washington meeting comes as South East Asian leaders gather for the second round of their postponed annual summit.

Trade will be high on the agenda, as well as agreements on energy and counter terrorism measures.

Jose Barroso speaking after the talks with President Bush

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