VLADIVOSTOK - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday she believed Japan and South Korea were ready to tone down a row over a disputed island chain that has set two close US allies at odds amid heightened regional tensions with China.

Clinton said she met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak while attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vladivostok and urged them to step back from confrontation.

"I raised these issues with both of them, urging that their interests really lie in making sure that they lower the temperature and work together in a concerted way to have a calm and restrained approach," Clinton told a news conference.

"I think that's being heard."

The Japan-South Korea dispute flared last month when Lee became the first South Korean leader to set foot on the islands claimed by both countries.

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