President Vladimir Putin on Thursday described the absence of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia as an "abnormal situation" and expressed his readiness to resolve the long-running dispute over a group of Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

Putin also said his remarks last March ostensibly seeking a draw over the dispute meant finding a solution acceptable to both countries, visiting former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori told a news conference after meeting the Russian leader in Moscow.

The president made the comment when Mori, who arrived in Russia on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit here later this year, asked the Russian leader — a longtime judo enthusiast — what he had meant when he said he would seek "hikiwake," a judo term for draw, to settle the dispute.