Japan, Europe seek free trade deal faster

BRUSSELS (AP) — The leaders of Japan and the European Union say they want to speed up talks on a wide-ranging free trade agreement.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday in Brussels it's an "important ambition to speed up these negotiations" to reap the benefits of an agreement which would "foster growth and job creation."

Visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said through a translator: "We confirm the importance of an early conclusion." Japan and the 28-nation bloc are top exporters and together produce more than one-third of the world's economic output.

The free trade talks were launched last year, but many stumbling blocks remain. A conclusion of a deal isn't expected before next year at the earliest, even though both sides see it as a chance to boost sluggish growth.

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