Mori to meet Putin on Thursday

Staff Report

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori will visit Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to prepare for a possible visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Russia, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihike Suga said Monday.

As a special envoy for Abe, Mori is expected to deliver a letter with personal messages from Abe to Putin, Suga told a news conference.

“Former Prime Minister Mori has a close friendship with President Putin,” Suga said.

“(Mori) will discuss overall Japan-Russia relationship to level the ground for a visit by Abe.”

Mori and Putin are expected to discuss the long-standing dispute over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

Mori once suggested Japan seek return of only three of the four islands of the islands, but Suga said he this time will stick to the official government stance calling for the return of all of the four.