Russian, Japanese foreign ministers discuss disputed islands

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono for the talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (A

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono for the talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (A

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono enter a hall for their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono enter a hall for their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono enter a hall for their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono enter a hall for their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, speaks to Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 201

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, speaks to Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 201

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono enter a hall for their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono enter a hall for their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 14

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, speaks to Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, black to a camera, during their talks in Moscow, Russia,

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, speaks to Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, black to a camera, during their talks in Moscow, Russia,

MOSCOW (AP) — The foreign Ministers of Russia and Japan are holding talks about disputed Pacific islands.

The Soviet Union took the four southernmost Kuril Islands during the final days of World War II. Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands, which it calls the Northern Territories, and the dispute has kept both countries from signing a peace treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to resume discussions on a 1956 Soviet proposal to return two of the islands to Japan. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Japanese counterpart Taro Kono met Monday to pave way for Abe's visit to Moscow later this month.

Signaling tough talks ahead, Moscow has recently bristled at Japanese statements about a possible deal, warning Tokyo against "artificially inciting the atmosphere."