• Kyodo

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Japan, China and South Korea are expected to agree on cooperation in the research and development of vaccines for animal diseases at a two-day meeting of farm ministers that kicked off Saturday in Tokyo, a government source said.

In a joint statement to be compiled by the three countries, the ministers are also likely to agree to hold regular working-level meetings on infectious diseases affecting domestic animals, the source said.

Thw two-day meeting was the first ministerial dialogue on agriculture between Japan and its two neighbors since April 2012, when the talks were suspended amid disputes over historical and territorial issues.

A series of bird flu and foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks have roiled Asia in recent years. The farm ministers are also expected to agree to work together on research of migratory birds and movements of people in a bid to better understand the routes of the infectious diseases, the source said.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi met with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Dong Phil, and Chinese Vice Farm Minister Chen Xiaohua. ,”Let’s issue a strong message for the three countries to cooperate in ensuring food security,” Hayashi reportedly told the pair at a dinner Saturday.

Their talks on Sunday were also expected to focus on promoting stalled negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement in the farming sector.

On the meeting’s sidelines, Japan was to hold bilateral sessions with the two countries to urge them to lift bans imposed on imports of Japanese agricultural and marine products after the eruption of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

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