Europe

Japan's FM meets Putin in St. Petersburg before Tokyo visit

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Putin is to travel to Japan later this month to meet the Japanese prime minister and discuss a territorial dispute over the southern Kuril islands which keeps the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Putin is to travel to Japan later this month to meet the Japanese prime minister and discuss a territorial dispute over the southern Kuril islands which keeps the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, right, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Putin is to travel to Japan later this month to meet the Japanese prime minister and discuss a territorial dispute over the southern Kuril islands which keeps the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, right, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Putin is to travel to Japan later this month to meet the Japanese prime minister and discuss a territorial dispute over the southern Kuril islands which keeps the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Putin is to travel to Japan later this month to meet the Japanese prime minister and discuss a territorial dispute over the southern Kuril islands which keeps the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)

    Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Putin is to travel to Japan later this month to meet the Japanese prime minister and discuss a territorial dispute over the southern Kuril islands which keeps the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)  (The Associated Press)

The Japanese foreign minister has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg and given him a personal message from the Japanese prime minister ahead of Putin's visit to Tokyo later this month.

A disagreement over the southern Kuril islands — which Japan calls the Northern Territories — has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. The Japanese prime minister's two visits to Russia this year have led many to believe that both sides are moving toward a breakthrough.

Putin said in televised comments Friday that Russia is working on the Japanese prime minister's proposals to expand ties between the two countries but made no mention of the Kuril islands.

Japan's foreign minister wouldn't disclose the contents of the message.