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Japanese and Russian FMs Discuss Kuril Islands Issue, Bilateral Ties in Tokyo

TOKYO – Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Friday that positive changes in Tokyo’s relations with Moscow have been emerging.
Japan’s top diplomat and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held bilateral talks in Tokyo on Friday. Before being joined by their delegations, the two ministers spent more than half an hour talking tete-a-tete.
Lavrov noted that an increase in the frequency of Russian-Japanese talks does not automatically imply that the two nations have been able to resolve the issues between them, adding that Moscow hopes to advance negotiations with Tokyo on trade agreements and possible visa-free travel.
“Certainly, the intensification of the negotiation process does not automatically mean that we are bringing our positions closer. There are still many problems,” he said after the talks.
“As part of preparations for the summit between the leaders of our countries scheduled for June this year, and in line with the agreements between the leaders of Russia and Japan reached in November last year in Singapore, we discussed the issue of a peace treaty, as well as cooperation in a wide range of areas,” Kono told reporters after the negotiations.
The Japanese diplomat also welcomed the enhancement of bilateral contacts in various areas at different levels.
“The only thing I can say is that, like during the previous meetings between the foreign ministers of our countries, I have clearly explained to my counterpart the position of Japan about the issues on which our countries have different positions,” Kono said.
On Thursday, the Russian and Japanese foreign and defense ministers held talks in a so-called 2+2 format. Despite voicing disagreements over Russia’s military activities in the disputed southern Kuril islands, the diplomatic and military chiefs of the two countries noted productivity in the negotiations and reaffirmed a mutual desire to further develop bilateral cooperation on security.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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