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Seoul has told Tokyo that the disputed exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, including near the South Korean-controlled islets, will not be included in a maritime survey it is planning for next month, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

Although it had been speculated that South Korea would include the zone near theJapan-claimed islets, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, Seoul has told Tokyo it does not have to cover the area in the survey because it did so in July, according to the official.

The decision comes as relations have improved somewhat.

Ownership of the islets remains a problem, but the two countries have agreed to conduct a different, joint survey, this one on radiation from Russian waste, in the area and at three other locations from Oct. 7 to 14.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Japan asked South Korea through diplomatic channels in late August to be briefed on the survey it will conduct on its own and urged it not to carry it out near the disputed islets.

At a regular bilateral “strategic dialogue” in Seoul on Sept. 6 and 7, the two countries agreed to continue discussions on demarcating the EEZ and on conducting maritime surveys after giving prior notice.

Japan also proposed that the two nations jointly conduct the radiation survey, which it had planned to conduct by itself in late September, and Seoul agreed.

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