Japanese and North Korean diplomats have agreed to work toward the resumption of formal intergovernmental talks for the first time since November 2012 "as soon as possible," a Japanese official said Thursday.

The agreement was reached during informal talks between the diplomats on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of the two countries' Red Cross societies in the northeastern Chinese city Shenyang, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Red Cross meeting just ended. The informal talks on Wednesday and Thursday between Keiichi Ono, director of the Northeast Asia Division of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, and Ryu Song Il, chief of the Japanese affairs section at the North Korean Foreign Ministry, were "sincere and constructive" the official said.