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Freeland to meet U.S. Mexican counterparts as NAFTA talks grind on

OTTAWA _ Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is set to welcome her Mexican and American counterparts to Ottawa today, despite the absence of a major breakthrough in Round 3 of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Freeland is hosting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister ldefonso Guajardo for a dinner meeting later today on the eve of the final day of talks in the national capital.

The third of seven planned rounds ends Wednesday with the goal of finishing by the end of the year becoming more elusive by the hour.

Freeland, Lighthizer and Guajardo hold a series of meetings Wednesday, but the major issues will be pushed forward into a fourth round in the coming weeks.

Canada’s chief negotiator has said he doesn’t expect progress on hot topics such as the investor state dispute settlement process, the fate of Canada’s supply-managed dairy and poultry industry, and the U.S. demand for increase American content in North American-manufactured automobiles.

Canada and the U.S. have also been forced to fend off accusations that they are deliberately dragging their feet at the talks.