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A dual-frame video coder employs two past reference frames for motion compensated prediction. Compared to conventional single frame prediction, the dual-frame encoder can have advantages both in distortion-rate performance and in error resilience. In previous work, it was shown that optimal mode selection can enhance the performance of a dual-frame encoder. In another strand of previous work, it was shown that uneven assignment of quality to frames, to create high-quality (HQ) long-term reference frames, can enhance the performance of a dual-frame encoder. In this letter, we combine these two strands and demonstrate the performance advantages of optimal mode selection among HQ frames for video transmission over noisy channels.