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Japan agrees on coordination with US, S. Korea over N. Korea

In this July 8, 2018 photo, from left, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha are pictured ahead of their talks in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Foreign Minister Taro Kono agreed Friday to maintain close bilateral and trilateral coordination with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts, a day after North Korea launched short-range missiles.

The agreement was reached as Kono held separate telephone talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to share information on North Korea's missile launches, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

The launches were the first since U.S. President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas on June 30, amid growing doubts about tangible progress toward Pyongyang's denuclearization.

Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, Trump did not condemn North Korea and Pompeo said separately that the door remains open for dialogue despite the missile launches.

North Korea fired two missiles from its east coast that fell in the Sea of Japan on Thursday morning, with Seoul saying they were a new type of short-range ballistic missile that flew about 600 kilometers.

Japan was still "analyzing" information by working closely with the United States to determine the type, according to Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

Despite the need for policy coordination over North Korea, ties between Tokyo and Seoul are at the lowest point in years amid a dispute over compensation for wartime labor during Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula. Japan has also imposed stricter export controls on some South Korea-bound products.

Kono and Kang discussed the issues during their 15-minute telephone call, according to the ministry. South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Kang called for the withdrawal of the export restrictions.

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