Kremlin Says Japan's Abe May Visit Russia for Putin Talks in May

  • Lavrov to prepare for `highest level' talks during Tokyo visit
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to visit Japan April 15

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may travel to Russia in May to meet with President Vladimir Putin, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Such a possibility is being worked on," Peskov told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.

Russia and Japan last year pledged to resume negotiations over an unresolved World War II territorial dispute following a break that lasted more than a year and a half. In 2013, Abe was the first Japanese leader to make an official visit to Russia in a decade, seeking to resolve the differences and expand energy supplies. Relations grew strained after Abe’s visit to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when Japan adopted sanctions against Russia over the annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

The countries have yet to sign a peace treaty for World War II after Soviet forces seized four islands, called the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan, as the conflict ended. While Japan has demanded their return, Russia has offered to give back only two of them.

Preparations for a meeting of the leaders may start next week, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Tokyo on April 15, according to his spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Putin may visit Japan after Abe’s trip to Russia, Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily reported in March, citing Chikahito Harada, Japan’s representative on relations with Russia and a former envoy to Moscow. Lavrov said in 2014 and again last year that Putin had accepted an invitation to Japan.

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