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US, Japan in 'grabbing distance' of pact on Asia trade deal

US-Japan's much-awaited, massive Pacific free-trade pact would encompass 40% of the global economyThe United States and Japan are within “grabbing distance” of resolving their differences on a much-awaited massive Pacific free-trade pact, the top US diplomat for Asia said. Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel was speaking Monday, just days before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to arrive on a historic visit to Washington, where he will hold talks with US President Barack Obama and become the first Japanese premier to address a joint session of Congress. One of the issues at the top of the agenda in his talks with US officials from April 26 to May 3 will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an ambitious 12-nation free-trade agreement including Australia, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. “Every leader and every trade minister within the 12 is determined to close on this deal this year, and it’s really a very impressive deal, not only in trade terms but in environment and labor as well,” he added in his talk at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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