Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrived in Seoul this week as part of a state visit to Asian countries. He met Tuesday with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young to discuss territorial and nuclear concerns in the region.
Japan had laid claim to islets of Dokdo, about 1,000 miles south of Tokyo. Seoul issued its objection to Japanese claims over the islets, describing Tokyo's claims as "sinister."
A South Korean Foreign Ministry official present during talks in Seoul spoke on condition of anonymity to the country's Yonhap News Agency, saying Burns listened "carefully" to Ahn's position on the territorial dispute.
Tokyo this week hosts delegates from Seoul and the United States to discuss nuclear concerns on the Korean Peninsula.
The South Korean official said Burns and Ahn discussed ways of maintaining security in the region ahead of the trilateral talks in Tokyo.
"The two countries agreed to maintain common approaches to the North and give consistent messages to it to prevent its possible provocation at a time of leadership changes," he said.
North Korea was suspected of preparing for a nuclear test early this year.