South Korea and the U.S. will resume talks this week to attempt a breakthrough in their long-stalled free trade agreement (FTA), government officials say.

The negotiations are likely to be challenging, however, as the countries have been struggling to find a middle ground on outstanding issues involving auto trade and beef.

Lawmakers of each country have been refusing to ratify the free-trade pact that was inked in 2007, and the U.S. has been pressing South Korea to open its automobile and beef markets wider.

Trade representatives of both sides failed to finalize the deal ahead of the meeting between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama at the Group of 20 summit in Seoul earlier this month despite earnest efforts.

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