Russia seeks 'calm' talks with Japan over disputed islands
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Japan Friday to begin "calm" discussions, without preconditions, on the fate of the disputed Kuril islands.
In a phone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba, Lavrov suggested that "a discussion on this problem could be carried out in a calm atmosphere, without preconditions and unilateral historical references," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Such talks "mustn't begin on the basis of Japanese declaration that 'Russia has no legitimate right' to the Kurils," he added.
The Pacific Kuril archipelago lies just north of Japan's northern Hokkaido island and the southernmost four islands in the chain are still claimed by Tokyo, in a dispute that has prevented the signing of the World War II peace treaty.
During Lavrov's phone discussions, which were a Japanese initiative, he congratulated Gemba on his nomination to the foreign affairs portfolio last week and called for "great cooperation" between the two countries in all matters, the statement said.
For his part Gemba thanked Russia for its help in dealing with the consequences of the nuclear accident.
© 2011 AFP