Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers' Telephone Talks

March 4, 2005

On March 4, Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura held telephone talks with Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation. The following is a summary of their discussion, which was realized under the initiative of Japan in response to the recent situation regarding North Korea.

1. The North Korea Issue

(1) Foreign Minister Machimura remarked that he believes Japan and Russia are working in the same direction regarding the nuclear issue of North Korea and that North Korea's declaration that it possesses nuclear arms is most regrettable and absolutely cannot be tolerated. He then stated that drawing a peaceful resolution to this issue through the Six-Party Talks is beneficial to North Korea itself, and thus Japan intends to put forth its utmost diplomatic efforts for the early and unconditional resumption of the Six-Party Talks. In addition, Foreign Minister Machimura noted his intention to cooperate with Russia on this issue, together with his expectation for Russia to call on North Korea for its participation. Foreign Minister Machimura further commented that Japan regards North Korea's responses to the abduction issue as insincere, and this has led to intensifying pressure in Japan to impose sanctions on North Korea. He then asked for Russia's understanding and cooperation regarding Japan's position on this issue.

(2) Foreign Minister Lavrov stated in response that he appreciates Foreign Minister Machimura taking the initiative to hold these telephone talks based on the results of the recent Japan-US-ROK Working Level Meeting. He further noted that he shares the same view and evaluation as Foreign Minister Machimura regarding North Korea's response at this time and that it is vital that efforts be made for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Russia has also been holding meetings with European countries, the European Union (EU), and the United States regarding this issue and all parties concerned are of the same view. For this reason, Russia intends to deepen further its cooperation with these parties concerned. In addition, Foreign Minister Lavrov noted that Russia has been sending clear signals to North Korea and that it intends to continue dialogue with Japan. As for the abduction issue, Foreign Minister Lavrov commented that he greatly understands the concerns of the people of Japan.

(3) Foreign Minister Machimura then shared his intent to work toward resolving issues of concern including nuclear programs, missiles and abduction through cooperation between Japan and Russia, and Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed his consent to this approach.

2. Japan-Russia Relations

(1) The two foreign ministers shared the view that the exchange of views on the occasion of the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers' Meeting in January at the time of Foreign Minister Machimura's visit to Russia was beneficial. They also confirmed that preparations between Japan and Russia for the visit to Japan by President Vladimir Putin are being advanced vigorously since Foreign Minister Machimura's visit to Russia and they agreed to accelerate further the preparation process.

(2) In this regard to this, the two foreign ministers agreed to continue coordinating the schedule for the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economy, which will be held at the time of the visit by Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Borisovich Khristenko to Japan, as well as the schedules for visits by Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Putin. Foreign Minister Machimura and Foreign Minister Lavrov agreed to hold further telephone talks in the near future.

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