September 19, 2015 / 4:28 AM / in 2 years

Japanese foreign minister to discuss disputed isles in Moscow

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov next week to discuss bilateral relations, frayed recently by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to a disputed island claimed by both countries.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida listens to questions from reporters at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Kishida will meet Lavrov in Moscow on Monday to discuss a range of issues including the four disputed Pacific islands, which have strained ties between the countries since the end of World War Two.

Japan lodged a protest last month over Medvedev’s visit to Iturup, one of the islands known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles and referred to as the Northern Territories in Japan.

Russia seized them in the last days of World War Two and the dispute has kept the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty since.

Kishida’s visit could lay the groundwork for a visit to Japan this year by Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as discussed by the leaders late last year.

Kishida will also meet First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov on Sept. 22, his final day in Russia, the ministry said.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel

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