Japan's Abe: Putin talks opened way for progress on isles dispute

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Sept 2, 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Sept 2, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

VLADIVISTOK, RUSSIA (REUTERS) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday (Sept 2) encouraged him that the two countries can make progress on a territorial dispute that had bedevilled relations for more than 70 years.

"Particularly regarding a peace treaty, the two of us alone had quite an in-depth discussion," Abe told reporters after meeting Putin on the sidelines of a conference in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

This encouraged him to believe the way forward to a resolution of the dispute, based on the mutual trust of the two leaders, had become clearer.

The dispute stems from Moscow's seizure of tiny islands off Hokkaido in the final days of World War II. The dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a treaty formally ending the war.

Abe said he plans to meet again with Putin in November in Peru on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit, and announced the date of Dec 15 for a highly anticipated bilateral summit in Japan.