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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be in Japan on May 30 and 31 to lay the groundwork for a promised visit by President Vladimir Putin later this year, Foreign Ministry officials in Tokyo said Wednesday.

The announcement was made after Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Lavrov agreed on the May visit over the phone.

The foreign ministers failed to set a date for Putin’s Japan visit, which Tokyo hopes will take place by the end of June.

Japan is apparently hoping a visit by Putin would help the two countries make headway over the long-standing territorial dispute over Russian-controlled islands off Hokkaido.

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