Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday he hopes to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the upcoming Asia-Europe summit.
"I would like to create the opportunity for talks with President Putin," Abe told reporters before leaving for the multilateral summit in Milan.
A Kremlin official said last week that a bilateral meeting at ASEM was possible. Abe and Putin are already expected to have talks on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit next month in Beijing.
The Japanese and Russian leaders met five times in Abe's first year in office. But Abe is now in a delicate position, trying to improve ties with the energy-exporting giant while also staying in step with the West on sanctions over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict.