SOCHI, Russia -- Seeking a breakthrough in a frozen territorial dispute, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed Japanese cooperation on energy projects, development of the Russian Far East, and other economic matters in a meeting Friday with President Vladimir Putin.
Abe sat down with Putin here in this Black Sea resort on an unofficial visit to Russia, his first trip to the country since 2014.
Abe told reporters before the meeting that he wanted "to have a frank, open discussion" on bilateral relations, including the still-unsigned World War II peace treaty.
Putin called Japan an "important partner" for Russia in the Asia-Pacific region and said the meeting would allow the two leaders to work on various economic and political issues.
Abe's eight-point economic cooperation proposal includes building liquefied natural gas plants, as well as ports, airports, hospitals and other infrastructure, mainly in the Russian Far East. This cooperation is predicated on progress in making headway toward a deal on the Russian-occupied islands that Japan calls the Northern Territories.
At a 2013 summit, the two leaders agreed to seek a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute. But Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, have also portrayed it as separate from negotiations on a peace treaty.
Abe and Putin are also thought to have used their latest meeting to discuss plans for a visit by Putin to Japan, a trip that has been postponed.
Russian media report that Putin intends to invite Abe to this year's Eastern Economic Forum, a two-day gathering to be held in Vladivostok from Sept. 2.