MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia and Japan have taken steps to improve bilateral ties after decades of cooled relations over the Kuril Islands territorial dispute as well as a recent rift when Japan joined Western anti-Russian sanctions following Crimea's rejoining with Russia. The last bilateral 2+2 meeting took place in 2013 just before the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis.
Lavrov and Kishida agreed during 2+2 meeting on the sidelines of February's G20 ministerial meeting in Bonn after discussing the practical aspects of implementing the agreements reached by the Russian and Japanese leaders. The issue of Russian military presence in the Kurils and the far east, including Defense Ministry plans to deploy a division on the Kuril Islands in 2017, will be dealt with by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada.
The Russian side has also expressed the desire to discuss international issues such as terrorist and drug trafficking.
The ministerial meeting follows deputy foreign minister-level talks held on Saturday that focused solely on the Kuril Islands issue. Both Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, and his Japanese counterpart Takeo Akiba presented plans on economic cooperation on the islands, including infrastructure construction, joint maritime exploration as well as ecological tourism.