TOKYO - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe held telephone talks Sunday amid frictions over Ukraine, and reportedly expressed interest in holding a summit.
Local media reports have said a visit to Japan by Putin planned for this autumn was now uncertain following Tokyo's sanctions on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.
But public broadcaster NHK reported that both leaders "expressed positive attitude towards a summit meeting" in Sunday's talks.
In response to Putin who said he hoped for a summit, Abe replied he was hoping to hold such a meeting on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Beijing in November, NHK said.
Abe also explained Japan's position on Ukraine and said his country stresses the importance of the rule of law, it added.
The foreign ministry said the leaders "discussed the bilateral relationship between Japan and Russia, and the situation in Ukraine" in the telephone conversation proposed by the Russian side.
"Both leaders agreed to continue dialogue" on the issues, it said in a statement, adding Putin congratulated Abe on his birthday on Sunday.
Abe had actively sought to forge closer diplomatic and economic ties with Russia before it took control of the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March.
He would dearly love to solve a longstanding dispute over a group of islands seized by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II, and still claimed by Japan.
The dispute has prevented Tokyo and Moscow signing a formal treaty ending the war.
In line with its western allies, Japan has announced sanctions on Russia over the Crimea annexation and over suspicions that Moscow is behind the instability by separatists in the east of Ukraine.