"We are holding this meeting in accordance with the agreement of the Russian president and the prime minister of Japan on the need to step up the work on a peace treaty in accordance with the declaration of 1956", Lavrov said, adding that he expected "to continue the ongoing dialogue" with Kono "in strict compliance with the sequencing" defined by the Russian and Japanese leaders.
When asked by reporters whether the sides would be able to overcome all the existing obstacles to the signing of the peace agreement until the G20 summit in Japan in June, the Russian minister stressed that the Russian side had no "artificial deadlines".
"We want to act on the basis of the 1956 declaration as agreed by our leaders in Singapore at the end of last year. This implies an indisputable first step – the conclusion of a peace treaty, which means, on its part, according to the position of Russia, that there is no alternative to the recognition by our Japanese neighbors the outcomes of World War II, including the sovereignty of Russia over the Kuril Islands, including the four islands of the Lesser Kuril Chain", Lavrov pointed out.
In 1956, Moscow and Tokyo signed a joint declaration that provided for the restoration of bilateral relations after the end of World War II. The Soviet Union also agreed to consider handing over two out four disputed islands — Habomai and Shikotan — to Japan.
Last month, Lavrov and Kono held the first round of talks aimed at eventually signing a permanent peace treaty.
Both Lavrov and Kono are participating in the 55th Munich Security Conference.