CHINESE and American officials yesterday got down to the hard business of trying to solve the impasse over the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations. After President Jiang Zemin and United States President Bill Clinton agreed at last month's summit to speed up talks on China's accession to the world trade body, the two nations' trade ministers agreed to work more closely on the issue. At a one-hour meeting between US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and Foreign Trade Minister Wu Yi, the officials swapped ideas for moving the process forward. China has prepared the ground for new offers on lowering its trade barriers but no specific progress was made at the meeting. The two sides agreed to continue negotiations at the WTO session in Geneva next month. 'In our meeting a good foundation has been laid to speak further in detail with regard to the range of WTO issues,' Ms Barshefsky said. 'We've agreed that our negotiators should continue their work and that she [Ms Wu] and I should stay in very close touch as we proceed.' A US official added: 'What we have achieved today is really an opportunity to take an in-depth look at the proposals that will be forthcoming from China.' At the meeting, Ms Barshefsky also pressed the Chinese side into providing its support for the ongoing talks on sectoral liberalisation, which were running into problems during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum ministerial sessions yesterday. 'China expressed interest in supporting areas we believe should be part of a package,' the US official said.