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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin in Tokyo on Tuesday, as the two countries seek progress in resolving a long-festering row over compensation for wartime labor that has pushed the neighbors’ relationship to a fresh low.

While the meeting with Kishida was seen as a positive sign for friendlier relations between the two countries — both sides agreed to meet again if ties further improve — Kishida and Park appeared to assiduously avoid concrete discussion about wartime labor and other contentious issues during their brief 20-minute meeting, which the Japanese side referred to as a “courtesy call.”

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