Putin in Tokyo to improve bilateral ties

Tokyo: Russian President Vladimir Putin who is on a two-day visit to Japan will be here on Friday to continue the bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Putin met Abe in Nagato for a 90-minute one-on-one at the start of his first official visit to the country in 11 years, CNN reports said.

Economic and security issues were at the forefront of talks between the two leaders on Thursday night as Japan looked to shore up a weak economy and Russia turned to the east to avoid US and European sanctions.

Speaking after the initial meeting at the Otani Sanso hot spring resort, Abe said both leaders discussed their countries’ 71-year dispute over the Kuril Islands, to Japan’s north.

Abe said he presented letters to his counterpart from former islanders, in both Japanese and Russian.

“We also talked about the possibility of joint economic activities on the islands under a special system and issues related to the peace treaty,” Abe added.

Abe expressed his strong concerns over humanitarian issues in Syria and asked Russia to play a constructive role, a high-ranking government official told journalists after the meeting.

Putin reiterated his support for Bashar al-Assad’s administration, the official said.

The Russian leader touched down in Abe’s home province Yamaguchi on Thursday afternoon more than an hour late after his flight was delayed.

Speaking ahead of his first meeting with Abe, Putin had said the summit talks would help improve bilateral ties between Russia and Japan, the reports added.

He thanked the Japanese leader for hosting at the hot spring resort, saying there would be “a chance to relax.”