WASHINGTON — The U.S. will kick off negotiations Wednesday with five Central American countries on a bilateral free-trade agreement, and apparel and textile trade groups are gearing up for the talks.

Foreign trade ministers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica will be in Washington for two days. One key stop will be on Capitol Hill, where they are set to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, lawmakers and corporate executives at a reception honoring the start of negotiations.

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