By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, discussing North Korea’s nuclear program and other issues in the first of several planned meetings with visiting Asian leaders.
Following his September 10 talks with Abe in the Russian far eastern port city of Vladivostok, Putin said they had exchanged views on “important international issues” and that Moscow and Tokyo would “continue tight contacts to foster inter-Korean dialogue.”
Abe arrived in Vladivostok earlier in the day ahead of an economic forum that Russia is hosting on September 11-13 in the city. Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon will attend the forum and meet with Putin later this week.
The meetings in Vladivostok come a week ahead of a planned summit between North and South Korea to be held September 18-20 in Pyongyang.
Washington has expressed disappointment with Pyongyang’s lack of progress toward denuclearization, though U.S. President Donald Trump praised North Korea for not displaying its intercontinental ballistic missiles at a massive military parade it staged on September 9.
Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been invited to this week’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok but would not attend.
Matviyenko, who met Kim in Pyongyang over the weekend, told Russia’s state-run RIA news agency on September 10 that the North Korean leader said he did not have plans to take unilateral steps toward denuclearization and was awaiting a U.S. response to measures he had already taken.
Matviyenko, a loyal longtime ally of Putin, said Kim struck a diplomatic and polite tone when discussing Trump and that he expressed hope that Moscow would support Pyongyang in its efforts to weaken Washington’s sanctions against the reclusive state.
Abe said after his talks with Putin on September 10 that the two sides were moving toward a peace treaty, something they never signed after World War II amid a territorial dispute over an island chain that Tokyo calls the Northern Territories and Russia calls the Southern Kuriles.
Abe added that he had received Putin’s support on efforts to resolve the issue of North Korean kidnappings of Japanese citizens.