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Japan, Russia agree to expand ties

by MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press on November 02, 2013 10:15 AM

TOKYO — Japan and Russia held their first high-level defense and diplomatic talks today and agreed to step up cooperation between their militaries amid regional security concerns such as North Korea and China.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and their Russian counterparts Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu also agreed to hold joint military and anti-piracy exercises and establish a defense consultation framework.

Lavrov told a news conference after today’s talks that upgrading defense ties between the two countries could serve their national interests in resolving terrorism and North Korea’s nuclear threats, as well as other regional disputes. He also welcomed the talks as a landmark development for Russia and Japan.

Earlier Friday, Japan and Russia agreed to continue discussing a territorial dispute that has kept the nations from signing a peace treaty.

The diplomats also agreed to hold vice-ministerial talks in late January or February, ahead of Kishida’s planned visit to Russia in the spring.

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