The United States and Japan are within "grabbing distance" of resolving their differences on a much-awaited massive Pacific free-trade pact, the top US diplomat for Asia said. Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel was speaking Monday, just days before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to arrive on a historic visit to Washington, where he will hold talks with US President Barack Obama and become the first Japanese premier to address a joint session of Congress. One of the issues at the top of the agenda in his talks with US officials from April 26 to May 3 will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an ambitious 12-nation free-trade agreement including Australia, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. "Every leader and every trade minister within the 12 is determined to close on this deal this year, and it's really a very impressive deal, not only in trade terms but in environment and labor as well," he added in his talk at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Real Madrid have the unenviable task of beating city rivals Atletico Madrid at the eighth attempt this season if they are to progress to a fifth consecutive Champions League semi-final. The European champions have failed to overcome Atletico in seven games since beating Los Rojiblancos in last season's Champions League final, including last week's 0-0 draw in the first-leg at the Vicente Calderon, and have also been struck by a series of injuries and suspensions to key players. Luka Modric and Gareth Bale will miss out after limping off with knee and calf injuries respectively in the 3-1 win over Malaga at the weekend, whilst Marcelo is banned and Karim Benzema faces a race against time to be fit due to a knee problem. Given those absences, the return to fitness and form of James Rodriguez is a huge boost for Los Blancos.