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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Boeing-Airbus truce holds up

Associated Press

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Despite a missed deadline, the European Union offered Monday to keep negotiating with the United States in an attempt to resolve a dispute over subsidies to the world’s two biggest aircraft makers, Europe’s Airbus and U.S.-based Boeing Co.

“We believe we should pause for further reflection,” EU Commission spokeswoman Claude Veron-Reville said.

The 25-nation EU has warned that taking legal action at the World Trade Organization risked prolonged trans-Atlantic political tensions and commercial uncertainty for both companies. The dispute centers on aid or subsidies to the aircraft makers and how it distorts the world market for planes. Both sides claim the subsidies cause unfair commercial damage.

Veron-Reville said, however, that a truce should not last too long.

“We should try to make good use of the period,” she said before warning “this period should not drag on for too long because there are important commercial interests at stake.”

On Jan. 11, both sides agreed to a 90-day negotiating window, but the three months of talks failed to resolve the dispute.

U.S. officials said Friday they would not take the case back to the WTO unless Europe launches new development subsidies for Airbus. The Bush administration had no additional comment Monday.

“As long as no action is taken, there is a window of opportunity for negotiating,” Veron-Reville said.