The defense ministers of Japan, the United States and South Korea on Thursday affirmed a policy of working together in dealing with North Korea, which continues missile testing.

In their telephone talks that lasted about 35 minutes, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook shared the view that North Korea’s ballistic missile launches are in violation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and destabilizing regional security.

It was the first time since November 2019 that the three countries’ defense ministers have held talks.

In the phone talks, Kishi, Austin and Suh agreed to work to meet in person.

North Korea has fired ballistic and cruise missiles seven times this year. Tokyo, Washington and Seoul are increasingly alarmed because North Korea has also suggested the possibility of resuming its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, which have been suspended since 2018.

Meanwhile, relations between Japanese and South Korean defense authorities have been strained due partly to an incident in December 2018 in which a South Korean warship directed a radar at a Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol plane.

With the threat from North Korea on the rise, the United States has been calling on the two Asian neighbors to mend fences.

The three countries initially planned to hold a face-to-face meeting of defense ministers in Hawaii in mid-January. But it was canceled due to a resurgence of the novel coronavirus.