Japanese PM to meet Russian President

Japanese PM to meet Russian President

MOSCOW (APP/AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Russia this week for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin and Tokyo said Tuesday, as the two sides look to make headway on a decades-old territorial dispute.

The Kremlin said talks, set for Thursday, would focus on "the state and prospects for development of Russo-Japanese cooperation in the political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres."

The meeting follows on from Putin's first visit to Japan in 11 years last December, when the two leaders failed to resolve a disagreement over an island chain that has prevented their nations signing a peace treaty to formally end World War II.

The Soviet Union seized islands off Japan's northern coast in 1945 in the closing days of the war.

Known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, they have been a thorn in relations ever since.

In Tokyo, Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga confirmed Abe's visit to Russia.

North Korea is also likely to be on the agenda of the talks "given the current situation," he said, referring to soaring tensions surrounding the hermit state's nuclear and missile programmes.

Both Russia and Japan have been part of more than a decade of multilateral efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme.

On Friday, Abe will visit Britain for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May at her country residence of Chequers, her office said.

It will be his first visit since May took office in July after the Brexit vote, and comes as she campaigns for an increased parliamentary majority for her Conservatives in a snap election on June 8.

May's Downing Street office said the meeting was a long-standing engagement with a "close ally and key trading partner", with discussions expected "on a range of bilateral and global issues".

Suga said the two leaders would "exchange views over Britain's exit from the EU as well as confirm close cooperation with Britain ahead of the G7 summit in late May".