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Canada returning to NAFTA talks earlier than expected

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NAFTA talks are resuming at the decision-maker level sooner than expected, with Canada’s foreign affairs minister set to return to Washington on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Chrystia Freeland’s office said the minister will be in D.C. for meetings tomorrow before travelling to Saskatoon for the Liberal caucus retreat.

She also may return to Washington for more meetings at the end of the week, but that has yet to be confirmed.

NAFTA decision makers stepped away from the talks on Friday, while lower-level technical negotiators from Canada and the United States continued to meet through the weekend.

When the political-level talks broke off, those discussions were not expected to resume until later in the week because of scheduling conflicts.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was in Brussels on Monday for meetings with his European counterparts about tariffs.

A source with direct knowledge of the talks said Canada is eager to secure an agreement soon, adding that getting to a new NAFTA deal will become more difficult the longer talks drag on.

The source, who spoke with CBC News on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, also said the Canadian side wants NAFTA talks wrapped up prior to the end-of-the-month deadline set by the U.S. side.

But progress behind the scenes has been described by multiple sources as “slow,” with several key issues still unresolved.

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