Motegi, Lavrov To Hold Talks In Moscow

Motegi, Lavrov to hold talks in Moscow

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will hold talks in Moscow on Thursday. They are expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including security, economic cooperation and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Lavrov is likely to express Russia's concern over a plan to deploy a US-made missile defense system in Japan. He is expected to cite the increasingly serious security environment surrounding Russia since the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, expired in August.

Regarding economic cooperation, Lavrov is expected to take up projects including the development of gas fields in the Arctic Circle.

An NHK reporter says a trial sightseeing tour earlier this year covered two of the four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan, and the two foreign ministers may discuss the feasibility of similar trips. But Lavrov is unlikely to have any intention to promote territorial negotiations with Japan over the islands.

The Japanese government maintains that the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.

The Russian side insists that bilateral relations need to be improved before progress can be made on concluding a peace treaty.

Lavrov is expected to gauge how far Japan is prepared to cooperate with Russia during Thursday's talks.

Japanese sources say Motegi hopes to build a personal relationship of trust with Lavrov and to pave the way for the next summit meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Vladimir Putin.

Russian maritime authorities seized five Japanese fishing boats in waters near the islands on Tuesday.

Some Japanese Foreign Ministry officials view the move as a show of Russia's hardline stance on the territorial issue ahead of Thursday's meeting.