Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kano, on Monday to discuss a plan to finally end World War II hostilities.
The talks revolved around four disputed islands, which Moscow calls the Kuril Islands and Tokyo dubs its Northern Territories.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Monday marked a “first round of Russian-Japanese talks on the problem of reaching a deal between the two countries.”
Lavrov opened the negotiations by warning Tokyo against engaging in “unilateral rhetoric.”
“It’s a difficult issue, we have to deal with the legacy of World War II, whose outcomes have been codified in the UN charter and Allied documents,” he said.
Japan and Russia did not sign a peace treaty in the wake of World War II. However, last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to accelerate talks for a peace deal, using a 1956 joint declaration as the basis for discussions.
Russian protesters have rallied against ceding any control of the islands to Japan. The islands are currently administered by Russia.
‘Problem of the peace treaty’
Moscow has since accused Tokyo of attempting “to artificially stir up the atmosphere” ahead of the talks. Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador to complain about remarks that “crudely distort the essence of agreements” between Putin and Abe.
“Such statements cannot be regarded as anything other than any attempt to artificially aggravate the atmosphere around the problem of the peace treaty, to impose one’s own scenario for its resolution on the other side,” the ministry said.
But Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga dismissed the ministry’s statement on Thursday, saying the government had already provided Moscow with its position on the disputed islands.
“We continue to work persistently based on our basic policy that we aim to resolve the issue of the islands and have a peace,” said Suga.
ls/rt (Reuters, AFP)