Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have held what the Kremlin described as “constructive” talks on a territorial dispute involving a Pacific island chain.
The two met in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 6.
The dispute, over a set of islands north of Hokkaido known as the Kuriles in Russia and referred to as the Northern Territories in Japan, is one of the main factors complicating the signing of a World War II peace treaty between Russia and Japan.
Last month, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that the two countries had agreed to start negotiations on signing a peace treaty.
His Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said Russia wants to "move forward" in relations, but is not prepared to budge on the "result of World War II."
Last year, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited one of the islands, home to some 19,000 Russians, and Moscow recently built new compounds for troops stationed there.
Still, Putin said during a public phone-in last month that he thinks "a compromise could be found at some point -- and it will be found" on the territorial dispute.