Putin Meets Former Japanese Prime Minister Mori, Gets Abe's Letter

Putin meets former Japanese Prime Minister Mori, gets Abe's letterFormer Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and handed him a letter from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday.

In Putin's first meeting with a prominent figure from Japan following the crisis over Ukraine, Mori said he indicated Tokyo's willingness to continue dialogue with Moscow with the aim of realizing a bilateral summit this fall.

Mori told reporters after the meeting that Putin told him dialogue with Japan "will continue and must continue," expressing strong enthusiasm for ongoing talks.

The agreement keeps alive the possibility of Putin visiting Japan despite strained bilateral relations as Japan imposes sanctions on Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis.

Mori said Putin read Abe's letter on the spot and told Mori to give Abe his regards.

Regarding the contents of the letter, Mori commented, "I have a feeling it said we should continue talking."

The meeting did not cover the timing of any visit by Putin to Japan or a long-standing dispute over Russian-held, Japanese-claimed islands off the north of Hokkaido, Mori said.

Japan calls the four islands the Northern Territories while Russia calls them the Southern Kurils.

Mori said he told Putin of the need for a peaceful conclusion to the Ukraine crisis, and Putin said he would strive for this.

Mori, who heads Japan's organizing committee for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, added that he invited Putin to the Games and the Russian leader responded he would like to attend if possible.