Japan's former foreign minister has visited Moscow and passed a personal message from the Japanese prime minister to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Masahiko Komura met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Tuesday morning and passed to him an envelope which he said contained a personal message from Japanese Prime Minister Shindzo Abe to Putin. The contents of the message were not disclosed by either side.

A dispute over the islands called the southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty ending their World War II hostilities.

Lavrov said at the meeting that Russia is open to cooperate with Japan "in all areas," but did not mention the Kurils.