MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin had a rare meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday but there was no breakthrough in a territorial dispute that has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their WWII conflict.

Abe has been pushing for progress in the dispute over the Russian-held islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the southern Kurils in Russia. Abe wants to arrange for Putin to visit Japan later this year.

Putin, who met Abe in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, told the Japanese prime minister in televised remarks that Moscow is willing to build on the progress in talks that the two leaders last held in Russia’s Sochi in May.

“We are carefully studying the proposals that you put forward during your visit to Sochi,” Putin said.

His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters later that the Kremlin had not expected a breakthrough on the territorial dispute, stressing the need for “long-term and thorough efforts of experts” in order to reach a compromise.

Peskov also said that Abe’s visit testified to Japan’s interest in expanding economic ties with Russia.