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Japan and South Korea held an upgraded working-level meeting Wednesday to get their stalled free-trade talks back on track, although hurdles remain.

The biggest and third-biggest economies in Asia held the deputy director general-level meeting in Tokyo as preparation for resuming formal talks, government officials said.

The two countries launched talks on a free-trade agreement in 2003 but soon ran into difficulties over issues that include the abolition of tariffs. After their sixth meeting in 2004, they broke off negotiations.

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