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The US is ready to propose easing the rules on foreign ownership of airlines as part of a "multilateral approach" to liberalise the aviation industry.It wants to see more than 60 countries, including the US, relax ownership restrictions to drive more investment into the industry.The plan came from John Byerly, a US State Department official who heads the American negotiators at the second round of the EU-US Open Skies talks.These are due to open in Slovenia today (May 15).But Mr Byerly warned that while the US had an "open mind" on EU requests to ease its tough rules, it would need a strong case to succeed. He said the US has more than 100 bilateral agreements with other countries on ownership rules.He described the situation as an "incredible web of restrictions" to Associated Press.In a speech to the European Aviation Club in Brussels this week, Mr Byerly said: "The European Union and the United States should include a much expanded list of countries for which, reciprocally, each side will pledge to forgo existing rights to bar air services on the basis of the nationality clause."His remarks surprised EC officials with its director air transport Daniel Calleja, also the EC's chief Open Skies negotiator, telling ATW: "John's multilateral initiative is news to me."He added: "Yet, the idea fits with the Commission's agenda to normalise aviation." Currently the US restricts foreign ownership of American airlines to 25%.Moves to relax this rule in the past have been rejected by US politicians.The new round of Open Skies talks which are due to be held today and tomorrow (May 16) in Ljubljana are likely to focus on ownership rules and environmental issues.The first stage of the agreement which included the opening up of London Heathrow Airport to all US and European carriers came into force in March.