MOSCOW (Jiji Press) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his New Year’s message issued to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has expressed his hope that the two leaders will continue to cooperate in building a true partnership between their countries.
In the message, which was announced by the presidential office on Friday, Putin said that he is happy to see dialogue between Russia and Japan promoted substantially during the course of 2016.
He said that the two countries were able to make substantive progress toward resolving important bilateral issues through his constructive talks with Abe, held in Russia, Peru and Japan.
Abe and Putin met in Sochi, Russia, in May and in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East in September. In November, they held bilateral talks in the Peruvian capital of Lima on the fringe of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit.
In addition, the leaders met in Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Dec. 15 and in Tokyo the following day.
At the Sochi meeting, Abe and Putin agreed on a new approach on the two nations’ longstanding territorial dispute over four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan.
In the talks in Japan, they agreed that the two countries will launch discussions on conducting joint economic activities on the islands, located off Hokkaido.
The islands were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II and are claimed by Japan. The territorial issue has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.
On Friday, the Russian presidential office also unveiled Putin’s New Year’s messages to other world leaders.