updated 12/7/2007 9:45:58 AM ET 2007-12-07T14:45:58

Japan will consider easing restrictions on U.S. beef imports, an apparent compromise after months of pressure from Washington, according to a news report Friday.

Agriculture Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi's concession followed the latest round of talks between Japanese and U.S. farm officials earlier Friday over Tokyo's restrictions on American beef, Kyodo News agency said.

Japan banned American beef imports over mad cow fears more than three years ago, but has eased that restriction to allow imported meat from young cattle aged 20 months or younger, on condition that certain bones and the spinal cord have been removed and the meat has been processed at selected plants.

Eating meat products with infected tissue is linked to a rare, fatal illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, that has killed more than 150 people worldwide, most of them in Britain.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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