The European Union demanded clarification yesterday on whether Washington was still interested in talks to resolve a decades-old trade dispute over subsidies to aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing.

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BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union demanded clarification yesterday on whether Washington was still interested in talks to resolve a decades-old trade dispute over subsidies to aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson was “frankly surprised” the United States had threatened to cut off talks Friday, EU spokeswoman Claude Veron-Reville said.

“We feel that the ball is very clearly in the American court and we are waiting for them to clarify their position,” Veron-Reville said. “We understood from some press statements that they were withdrawing from the negotiations, but we received no prior communication of that.”

Richard Mills, a spokesman for the U.S. trade representative, said Friday the United States may reinstate a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization because the EU “is unwilling to eliminate launch-aid subsidies for Airbus.”

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Mills said yesterday the United States remains committed to the talks.

“We are here at the table, we are ready to talk; all we said on Friday is that things were at an impasse,” he said in a telephone interview from Washington. “The core issue remains, is the European Union willing to give up launch aid? It’s a very basic question.”

Veron-Reville said the talks had made progress. But she warned that the EU would not sign a deal that was unbalanced and didn’t cut subsidies equally to the two companies.