The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea failed Thursday to make any progress toward resolving bilateral disputes over the contentious issue of compensation for wartime labor and trade, but agreed to continue dialogue.

In his first meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha since taking office earlier this month, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told Kang that the state of bilateral relations is "extremely severe" even though the need for bilateral cooperation in dealing with North Korea is "greater than ever," a Japanese official said.

"In my meeting with Minister Kang, we shared the importance of building future-oriented ties while explaining our positions over the issues facing us," Motegi told reporters in New York, where he held bilateral and U.N.-related meetings.