Russian President Vladimir Putin has met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a rare visit in Russia's Far East.

Abe has been pushing for progress in the dispute over the Russian-held islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the southern Kurils in Russia. The row has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their WWII hostilities. Abe wants to arrange Putin's visit to Japan later this year.

Putin on Friday hosted Abe in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, telling the Japanese prime minister in televised remarks that Moscow is willing to build on the progress in talks that the two leaders last held in Russia's Sochi in May.