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Apr 24, 5:49 AM EDT

Obama rejects notion that trade deal is in danger

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TOKYO (AP) -- President Barack Obama is rejecting suggestions that an Asia-Pacific trade deal is in danger.

During a visit to Tokyo, Obama is urging U.S. and Japanese negotiators to take bold steps to overcome differences that are threatening completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He says now is the time to resolve those disagreements.

The 12-nation talks are a cornerstone of Obama's strategic rebalance to Asia. But talks broke off hours after Obama spoke and were not expected to resume soon.

Standing alongside Japan's leader, Obama also affirmed that the U.S. would defend Japan in a potential confrontation with China over a set of disputed islands. At the same time, he called on both parties to peacefully resolve the long-running dispute.

Obama's comments come on the first full day of a four-nation visit to Asia.

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