JAPANESE Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe will visit Russia in
late April for a summit with
President Vladimir Putin, Foreign
Minister Fumio Kishida said on
Monday.
Abe has pledged to resolve a
decades-old territorial dispute
with Russia over a string of
western Pacific islands, seized by
Soviet troops at the end of World
War II, in the hope of building
better ties to counter a rising
China.
The feud has precluded a
formal peace treaty between the
two countries.
Talking to reporters after a
security meeting among foreign
and defense ministers from Japan
and Russia, Kishida also said the
two sides had agreed to demand
that North Korea, which has
carried out a series of nuclear and
missile tests in defiance of UN
sanctions, halt such actions.
“We had in-depth talks today
over North Korea’s nuclear
and missile issues and agreed
to demand strongly that North
Korea refrain from further
provocations and observe UN
Security Council resolutions,”
Kishida said.
North Korea’s official media
said on Sunday the reclusive
state had tested a new high-thrust
engine, which an analyst said
was a dangerous step toward
the North’s goal of developing a
rocket that could hit the US.
The foreign and defense
ministers from Japan and Russia
met in Tokyo, with both sides
expressing hope that discussions
on joint development of islands
claimed by both countries
might help them move closer to
resolving the territorial dispute
preventing them from forging a
peace treaty.
The talks are the first “twoplus-
two” meeting since Russia’s
annexation of Crimea from
Ukraine.
The one-day meeting was
largely focusing on regional
security, especially how best to
deal with North Korea’s launches
of missiles and its nuclear
program.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said
before the talks that its envoys
would raise the issue of a plan
by the US and its ally South
Korea to deploy a state-of-the-art
missile defense system known as
THAAD, which has antagonized
China and Russia.
Joint efforts in fighting terrorism
and drug trafficking were also on
the agenda.
Kishida was meeting with
his Russian counterpart, Sergei
Lavrov, while Japanese Defense
Minister Tomomi Inada sat down
for talks with Russian Defense
Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The four ministers will also
hold joint talks on international
and bilateral issues.
Japan and Russia last held “twoplus-
two” talks in November
2013. Meetings were shelved after
that due to the crisis in Ukraine,
as Japan joined sanctions against
Moscow.
The Tokyo talks were not
expected to lead to a breakthrough
on conflicting claims to islands
north of Hokkaido — Etorofu,
Kunashiri, Shikotan and the
Habomai islets — that came
under Russian control after
Japan’s defeat in World War II.


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