Japan and Russia will hold vice ministerial talks July 24 in Tokyo with a view to promoting bilateral relations in a wide range of fields, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The talks, covering ways to move forward peace treaty negotiations and ideas for a bilateral action plan to activate political, economic and cultural exchanges, are expected to pave the way for visits to Russia by Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Japan will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Toshiyuki Takano, while the Russian delegation will be headed by Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, the ministry said.

The two countries plan to have Kawaguchi visit Russia around this fall, ahead of a trip there by Koizumi in December or January.

Koizumi and President Vladimir Putin confirmed last month in Canada the agreement reached earlier by Kawaguchi and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to activate political dialogue between the two nations.

The two leaders also agreed to issue the action plan for promoting cooperative ties when they meet in Russia.

One of the biggest issues of contention is a long-standing territorial dispute over the ownership of islands held by Moscow and claimed by Tokyo. The matter has prevented the two sides from concluding a peace agreement since the end of World War II.

Takano and Losyukov last met March 13 in Moscow.

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