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Top Russian, Japanese Officials Holding Talks

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (right) with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Tokyo on November 1.
Senior officials from Russia and Japan have started two days of talks.

In preliminary discussions between the countries' respective foreign ministers, Japan's Fumio Kishida expressed hope that territorial issues would be on the agenda, a reference to the dispute over the Kurile Islands, seized by the Soviet Union after World War II.

The Kyodo News agency said that Kishida and Russia's Sergei Lavrov also agreed to expand economic cooperation.

The main discussions between Lavrov and Kishida as well as Defense Ministers Sergei Shoigu and Itsunori Onodera are scheduled for November 2.

Analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin is pursuing closer ties with Japan in part to counter China's rising military power.

The two sides have also stepped up cooperation on developing energy resources, especially liquefied natural gas, and other trade in the Russian Far East.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters