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South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong Soon Yung praised Tokyo’s intention to remove a ban on chartered flights between Japan and North Korea in telephone talks with new Foreign Minister Yohei Kono on Thursday.

Chartered flights were suspended as part of sanctions Tokyo imposed on Pyongyang after the country test-fired a missile over Japan in August 1998.

Although no date has been set for their resumption, Japan lifted its freeze on the flights in response to North Korea’s recent pledge to suspend missile test-launches.

During the telephone conversation, Kono and Hong vowed to further coordinate their policies toward North Korea with the United States, a Japanese official said.

To draw a more positive response from North Korea to international concerns over its nuclear and missile programs, Kono and Hong confirmed the importance of further cooperation by Japan, South Korea and the U.S. in dealing with the reclusive state, the official said.

Hong also congratulated Kono on his appointment Tuesday and confirmed his commitment to strengthening bilateral ties, the official said.

The two ministers agreed to do their best to make a bilateral ministerial meeting later this month a success.

The meeting, the second of its kind, will be held on South Korea’s Cheju Island on Oct. 23 and 24.

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