Russia says disagreements still hamper peace talks with Japan
The foreign ministers of Russia and Japan met in Moscow on Monday pushing ahead with efforts to strike a peace deal and end a decades-old dispute over four strategic islands.
Significant points of disagreement remain, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday in his statement.
"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 after meeting his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono.
"It is hard to expect progress in Japan peace talks without Japan first recognizing Russian sovereignty over disputed islands," Lavrov said.
Despite the difficulties, Lavrov also expressed that the resources for cooperation were "truly inexhaustible" and should be used to work towards a peace agreement.
"There is a need to improve our relations significantly," Lavrov said in the statement.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono also expressed that the two countries must use the great potential for cooperation in his remarks made before the Monday meeting.
He said they should "speed up (peace) negotiations, going beyond the boundaries of previous positions," without elaborating.
In November, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to accelerate talks on a peace agreement which would build on a 1956 Japan-USSR declaration which restored diplomatic ties.
The joint declaration said that the USSR agreed to hand over two of the islands – Habomai and Shikotan – to Japan following a peace deal. Japan, however, demanded sovereignty over all the disputed islands, which include Iturup and Kunashir and peace talks stalled.