Tokyo and Moscow will be able to sign a peace treaty, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Friday after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

“I’m sure about concluding the peace treaty and I’m confident that today’s meeting served as a step forward in this direction,” he said.

Japan’s top diplomat also noted the importance of trust-based Japanese-Russian relations. “While developing bilateral relations, we are deepening mutual confidence between our peoples,” he said.

Kono said he will meet with Lavrov again in the run-up to the top-level talks due next May.

“Mr. Lavrov and I have agreed to hold a meeting of the Japanese and Russian foreign ministers while getting ready for the summit, which is expected in May,” he said following talks with Russia’s top diplomat.

The Japanese minister noted that, “thanks to the responsible dialogue between the two countries’ leaders, the Japanese-Russian relations received huge boost.” “To ensure their further development, it is necessary for the foreign ministers to meet more often too,” he added.

“In addition to an important top-level meeting, we believe that meetings and negotiations between the foreign ministers are very important as well,” he said. “We have agreed that Mr. Lavrov will visit Japan to continue a frank dialogue and get ready for the upcoming (top-level) meeting.”

“I would thus like, together with my counterpart, to move, step by step, towards our common coal, namely, the signing of a peace treaty,” Kono noted.

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