Shinzo Abe Vladimir Putin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20 Summit in 2013Reuters

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the impending Asia-Europe summit.

"I would like to create the opportunity for talks with President Putin," Abe told reporters ahead of the multilateral meeting in Milan.

The two leaders are widely expected to have talks at a summit next month in Beijing but a Kremlin official said last week that there was a possibility the leaders could meet at the Asia-Europe summit.

Putin and Abe have met five times since the Japanese Prime Minister's returned to power in December 2012, but the relationship has stalled as Western leaders imposed economic sanctions on the Kremlin over the Ukraine crisis.

Tokyo has followed suit but to a much lesser extent than the United States and the European Union, imposing only two rounds of sanctions on Moscow, after it annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine.

Russia has sought to realign itself with China in a bid to weather the economic punishment meted out by the West. Moscow and Beijing signed a $400bn gas deal in May, while the two parties announced a raft of economic agreements on Monday.

However, Russia is eager to maintain strong ties with Asia's most developed economy, while Japan remains keen to improve ties with the energy exporter.

Abe also told reporters he had not discussed any specific proposals on the stalled Trans-pacific Partnership in a phone call with US President Barack Obama.