WASHINGTON (CNN) - A U.S. trade team negotiating China's entry into the World Trade Organization reported no major progress on Friday and plans to return to Washington from Beijing on Saturday.
"There are no positive developments to report at this time," U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said in a brief statement, which was released by a spokeswoman in Washington who added that the U.S. negotiating team was due to return to Washington on Saturday.
Earlier, a U.S. official had said, "No further talks have been scheduled."
The United States would like to achieve the deal by the end of the month, when a new round of global trade talks with WTO members is launched in Seattle. But that looks increasingly unlikely, particularly in light of the announcement of the U.S. team's abrupt departure from Beijing.
Before the announcement, Barshefsky, who along with top White House aide Gene Sperling had spent three days talking to their Chinese counterparts in Beijing, expressed disappointment in the negotiations.
"We came to Beijing to make progress. We are discouraged that progress has not been made at this point. The clock has nearly run out," she said.
Barshefsky's spokeswoman would not comment on the stumbling blocks that arose in negotiations. On Wednesday, Barshefsky described the talks with China's Minister of Foreign Trade Shi Guangsheng as "substantive and detailed."
But officials in Washington had cautioned against expecting a breakthrough.
To complete its 13-year quest to join the WTO, which sets global trading rules, China would have to reach market-opening agreements with the United States, the European Union, Canada and other members.
But U.S.-Chinese relations have been marred in recent months by disputes over concessions proposed by Premier Zhu Rongji during a state visit to Washington in April, as well as other issues.
U.S.-China negotiations were suspended after the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in May and only resumed in September when President Clinton met President Jiang Zemin in New Zealand to mend fences.
--from staff and wire reports