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TOKYO, March 19. /TASS/. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told TASS ahead of a 2+2 meeting of the Japanese and Russian foreign and defense ministers due to take place in Tokyo on March 20 that he has established relations of personal trust with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, whom he believes to be a strong diplomat.
"Minister Lavrov has made a great career as professional diplomat," Kishida said. "He has been having his current position for more than ten years and he knows all the ins and outs of various international problems and gives an impression of a man strong at discussions."
According to the Japanese top diplomat, he has met with Lavrov eight times by now. "For instance, I recollect our meeting in London in April 2013 when I had just been appointed foreign minister," he said. "It was our first conversation. Back then, we had a long discussion about historical interpretation and legal positions concerning the problem of the northern territories [as Tokyo refers to Southern Kuril Islands - TASS]."
"Later on, at our meeting in last April we confirmed that even having differences in historical interpretations and legal positions we must work out a mutually acceptable way to resolve the problem of the northern territories," Kishida noted. "Ultimately, we were able to hold a constructive discussion that could give an impetus to future talks."
"Taking into account telephone conversations, we have spoken with Minister Lavrov 13 times," Japan’s top diplomat said. "I feel that we have managed to build relations of trust that make it possible to speak openly and unequivocally about the most difficult matters.".