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Japan discovers another suspected mad cow case
Updated: 2004-10-23 13:00

Japanese and U.S. officials wrapped up three days of talks Saturday to lift Tokyo's 10-month-old ban on imports of American beef, reportedly narrowing differences over testing standards for mad cow disease but failing to strike a deal.

Meanwhile, a dairy cow from western Japan tested positive for the bovine disease in preliminary tests conducted early Saturday, an official said. If confirmed, the five-year-11-month-old cow from Mie state would be Japan's 15th animal with the fatal brain-wasting illness, known formally as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.

This week's talks between U.S. and Japanese officials have focused on how tough U.S. tests for mad cow disease should be.

Officials on both sides reached a preliminary agreement on a Japanese plan to exempt cows younger than 20 months from testing, but continued to disagree over Japan's demands that the United States immediately introduce a countrywide electronic animal-tracking system, public broadcaster NHK reported Saturday.

The U.S. Embassy and Japan's Foreign Ministry declined immediate comment.

The at-times heated meetings were scheduled to end Friday after two days but they stretched to Saturday.

The two sides have been at odds over testing since the discovery of the first case of the disease in the United States last December prompted Tokyo immediately to shut its markets to American beef imports.

Japan checks all domestically bred cows entering the food chain, and had demanded that the United States adopt similar blanket testing. Washington had resisted, dismissing such testing as costly and unreliable in detecting infections among young cows.

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