Japan and Russia agreed Monday to closely cooperate on efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear provocations, holding their first ministerial talks on foreign policy and security since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.

In the so-called two-plus-two dialogue, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada met with Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu.

The meeting marks an improvement in bilateral ties that have been long complicated by a territorial dispute over four Russian-controlled islets off Hokkaido.