The President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. They talked for nearly 90 minutes Thursday night in the beginning of the first official visit of Putin in the country for 11 years.
Economic issues and security issues were in the first place during the negotiations between the two leaders, as Japan wants to strengthen a weak economy and Russia turns to the East to avoid American and European sanctions. Speaking after the first meeting to reporters, Abe said the two leaders also discussed the 71-year-old dispute in their countries concerning the Kuril Islands, North of Japan. Abe said he presented the letter to his colleague of the former islanders, Japanese and Russian.
"We also talked about the possibility of joint economic activities on Islands in the framework of the special system and the issues related to the peace agreement," said Abe. The Prime Minister of Japan also expressed strong concerns about the humanitarian problems in Syria and asked Russia to play a constructive role, according to a senior government official to journalists after the meeting.
Putin reaffirmed his support for the administration of Bashar al-Assad, the official said.
Putin arrived in his native province Abe on Thursday in the afternoon local time, with more than hour late after a flight delay. Speaking before his first meeting with Abe, Putin said that the summit talks will contribute to the improvement of bilateral relations between Russia and Japan.
On Thursday evening, Putin and Abe discussed the free passage of the islanders, as well as potential "joint economic projects" that will be developed on the Islands.
A former American diplomat and senior researcher at the RAND think tank in Washington, William Courtney, said that Putin's visit to Japan sends a message to the United States. "Russia hopes to weaken support for U.S. military basing and deployment, and to undermine public support in Japan for improving combat readiness," he said.
sections: Politics, World News