MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The four Kuril Islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai — have been administered by Russia since the end of World War II, but Japan still lays claim to them.
"The peace treaty issue cannot be reduced to some territorial matters or territorial claims, at the very least because the only document that was signed and ratified by both sides — the joint declaration of 1956 — states that the sides have agreed to renounce all claims against each other, and the next task is to sign a peace treaty," Lavrov said in an interview with Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian media.
He also said that disapproving statements coming from Washington regarding high-level contacts between Russia and Japan are simply outrageous.
"We have heard statements from Washington that they do not approve of high-level contacts between Russia and Japan…this is outrageous behavior. I think our Japanese colleagues understand this and assess it in a way such unacceptable manners should be assessed."
"Prime Minister Abe expressed interest in visiting Russia. We immediately proposed specific dates. As far as I understand, such a visit will take place in the nearest future."
As for a possible visit to Japan by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov stated that there are "absolutely no obstacles."
"In order for [the visit] to take place, we need for the invitation… to take the form of a specific date," he added.