TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin held telephone talks Sunday amid speculation about whether a visit by Putin will go ahead due to frictions over Ukraine.
Local media reports say Putin’s visit to Japan planned for this autumn is now uncertain following Tokyo’s sanctions on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.
“The leaders discussed the bilateral relationship between Japan and Russia, and the situation in Ukraine” in the telephone conversation proposed by the Russian side, the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Both leaders agreed to continue dialogue” on the issues, it said, adding Putin congratulated Abe on his birthday on Sunday.
The Japanese government has never confirmed the timing of Putin’s visit. A foreign ministry official in charge of Russian affairs declined to give further details of the telephone talks.