Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: The narrow-format meeting, the first event on the programme of President Putin’s visit to Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan, the home region of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has ended.
Today’s talks concentrated on bilateral relations in the areas of political dialogue, security issues, international matters in the Asia-Pacific region, and cooperation in the UN and other international bodies.
In bilateral relations, the two leaders noted that our contacts have intensified, particularly at the highest level. Today’s was the fourth meeting between President Putin and Prime Minister Abe. This is also the first time in close to four years that our countries have renewed the format of dialogue on strategic issues between our first deputy foreign ministers.
Our Foreign Ministries have held a whole series of consultations and there have also been contacts between the secretaries of Russia’s and Japan’s Security Councils. [Secretary of the Russian Security Council] Nikolai Patrushev’s counterpart, Mr Yachi, visited Moscow just recently and they had very substantive talks.
We have also established contacts between our border services and the officials responsible for shipping safety, and this cooperation is developing well. We also agreed today on the need to revive other bilateral dialogue mechanisms that had been suspended over these last years, including military contacts.
We used to hold meetings in what we called the Two Plus Two format: our foreign ministers and our defence ministers met a couple of times. Thus, [Defence Minister] Sergei Shoigu and I met with our Japanese counterparts, but this format was later suspended. Today, President Putin proposed resuming these meetings, as well as meetings between our heads of general staff. Prime Minister Abe responded positively to this proposal. I hope that such a decision will be taken.
As I have said, we discussed international affairs as well. This year and next, Japan will hold a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, which creates additional opportunities for working together. The two leaders noted that we work together quite well in the Security Council. We do not always vote the same way, but we have a well-organised consultation mechanism and our Japanese colleagues always explain their positions, listen attentively to us, and make an effort to take our positions into account.
We discussed other forms of cooperation at the UN outside the Security Council. We are grateful to our Japanese colleagues for supporting Russian initiatives, including those on international information security, confidence-building measures in space and other matters discussed at the UN General Assembly.
Of course, today’s meeting included an exchange of views on the current situation with efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and the situation in Ukraine in the context of the need to implement in full the Minsk Agreements. In these areas, our positions are very close indeed. President Putin gave a detailed account of how we assess efforts to date to break the deadlock in implementing the February 12, 2015, Minsk Agreements.
Our cooperation within the UN has another promising dimension. The UN has the its Office on Drugs and Crime, which has a project to train drug control police from Afghanistan and Central Asia. The training is taking place at the Russian Interior Ministry Centre in Domodedovo and is funded by our Japanese colleagues. An agreement has been reached to develop this type of project and use the model in other areas under UN aegis.
Common security issues in the Asia-Pacific region were also on the agenda. Our discussions dealt with the missile defence issue and the general question of foreign, primarily American, presence in the region, which we see as not commensurate to the threat that North Korea and its missile and nuclear programmes pose. It is these threats that the Americans cite as the pretext for building up advanced weapons systems in this region. As I said, we consider this a disproportional response.
President Putin spoke in detail about the United States’ missile defence systems and their plans to establish here in Northeast Asia another positioning area for what we consider part of a global offensive combat system, in addition to the missile defence bases already established in Europe, the Mediterranean, and in Alaska now too, of course.
It seems to us that our Japanese colleagues have gained a better understanding of Russia’s concerns in this respect. It was also noted that whatever happens, Russia and Japan, despite Japan’s special relations with the United States, based on their military and political alliance of 1960, both seek close cooperation on security issues within the different forums that exist in the Asia-Pacific region. These include the regional security forum under the aegis of ASEAN, the East Asia summits and other formats, including meetings between ASEAN defence ministers and ASEAN partners.
The talks continued in a one-on-one format. It was in this format that the two leaders decided to examine the preparations for further talks on a peace treaty.