Japan’s new Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his Russian counterpart SergeyLavrov agreed Monday to craft specific projects for joint economic activities on Russian-held, Japanese-claimed islands off Hokkaido, a government official said.
During their first bilateral talks in Manila, Kono and Lavrov also confirmed that the two countries will hold a vice foreign ministerial meeting on Aug. 17 in Moscow to discuss such activities, the Japanese official said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in December to begin joint activities on the isles. Tokyo hopes that the activities will pave the way for settling the decades-old territorial row with Moscow, while Russia is believed to be seeking investments from Japan.
The islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group were seized by the Soviet Union after Japan surrendered in World War II in August 1945. They are called the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.
Kono and Lavrov, meanwhile, welcomed the fresh sanctions on North Korea that the U.N. Security Council adopted Saturday in response to Pyongyang’s two long-range missile tests in July, the official said.
The sanctions resolution, which China and Russia voted for, was the seventh the Security Council has imposed on North Korea since 2006, when the country carried out its first nuclear test.
Kono and Lavrov met on the sidelines of a series of regional meetings hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Lavrov invited Kono, who assumed his post last week in a Cabinet reshuffle, to Russia, the official said.