• Kyodo

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Japan and Australia agreed Wednesday to promote negotiations for easing border restrictions that have been in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Australian counterpart Marise Payne reached the agreement in a meeting in Tokyo as they discussed ways to develop bilateral economic ties while ensuring measures to curb the spread of the virus.

The two countries — key members of the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free trade agreement — have been negotiating a resumption of mutual travel, mainly for businesspeople, since June as part of efforts to reboot their economies.

Motegi and Payne also affirmed coordination in preparing for a planned visit to Japan by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, according to the ministry.

The Australian newspaper reported last month that Morrison plans to visit Japan for talks with new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as early as November.

During her visit to Tokyo, Payne on Tuesday met with Motegi, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a group of four Indo-Pacific democracies collectively known as the Quad.

Payne, Pompeo and Jaishankar had separate talks with Suga as well.

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