Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2-L) and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (R) talk during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, 14 January 2019. EPA

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Japan must recognise Russia’s sovereignty over all of the disputed south Kuril islands in order for peace talks to continue.

Moscow is willing to work toward a peace resolution provided “Japan’s indisputable recognition of the entirety of results of World War II, including Russia’s sovereignty over all of the islands of the southern Kuril chain,” Lavrov said in a briefing following talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono.

Lavrov said this basic premise is reflected in the 1956 joint declaration of the Soviet Union and Japan, which Moscow is willing to use as a starting point.

“This is our base position and without steps in this direction it is very difficult to expect movement forward on other issues,” he said.

“Sovereignty over the islands is not up for discussion, this is Russian territory.”

Lavrov and Kono spoke in Moscow for several hours in their first meeting aimed at speeding up the process toward a formal peace treaty as agreed by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November.

Unusually, the two foreign ministers did not appear in a joint press conference but scheduled two separate briefings for the media. Lavrov said this was done at the request of Tokyo. -- AFP

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