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Europe, US Say Trade Talks Start Well

European and U.S. negotiators say talks to create the world's largest free-trade zone are off to a good start.

The chief European Union negotiator, Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, and his U.S. counterpart Daniel Mullaney said Friday that the first week of discussions in Washington were productive.

Garcia-Bercero said that he and Mullaney see a deal as potentially "transformative" for the combined 28-nation EU and U.S. economies, the two largest in the world. Both sides are trying to complete a deal by the end of next year.

The EU and U.S. are seeking to remove bureaucratic, regulatory and protectionist barriers to boost their economic fortunes. A pact would cover countries with a combined population of 820 million.

The talks were almost derailed by protests from European officials about the recent revelation of U.S. spying on European governments and EU agencies. But Mullaney and Garcia-Bercero said the issue did not come up in their talks, although the surveillance was discussed in separate EU-U.S. meetings this week.

The next round of talks is set for Brussels in October.

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