Putin, Abe discuss security ties, disputed islands

New York : Russian President Vladimir Putin in a 90 minute meeting on Thursday night with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed economic and security issues.

Speaking after the initial meeting, Abe said both leaders also discussed their countries’ 71-year dispute over the Kuril Islands, to Japan’s north, reports the CNN.

Abe said he presented letters to his counterpart from former islanders, in both Japanese and Russian.

“We also talked about the possibility of joint economic activities on the islands under a special system and issues related to the peace treaty,” said Abe.

The Japanese Prime Minister also expressed his strong concerns over humanitarian issues in Syria and asked Russia to play a constructive role, said a high-ranking government official.

Putin reiterated his support for Bashar al-Assad’s administration, the official said.

Putin is in Japan for a two-day visit, a first in 11 years and much of his visit is centered around the Kuril Islands, that were occupied by Russia three days after the end of World War II.

Japan still considers those four islands part of its territory and hopes to make progress on having the islands returned.

On Thursday evening, Putin and Abe discussed free passage of islanders as well as potential “joint economic projects” to be developed on the islands.