Europe, US begin air pact talks in Washington

Senior officials from the European Union and the United States resumed stalled talks Tuesday aimed at expanding air travel between the two. US Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters began discussions with EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot and German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency. EU officials have complained that negotiations were set back after the US government scrapped a draft agreement reached in earlier negotiations that would have permitted foreign investors to have more control of US airlines. The Bush administration decision followed votes this year in both the Senate and House of Representatives to prevent the plan from going forward. Peters said in December that the department bowed to job and security fears when it withdrew a proposal to lift the rule that limits to 25 percent foreign ownership of any US carrier.