Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have called on North Korea and the US to avoid actions that could inflame tensions amid the increasing danger of war.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Moscow on Thursday (27 April), Putin and Abe said they have agreed to work closely going forward in an attempt to defuse the situation.

The two leaders also called for a resumption of six-party international talks held with North Korea, which broke down in 2009.

"In my opinion, and in the opinion of the prime minister [Abe], the situation on the Korean peninsula has unfortunately got a lot worse," said Putin, reported by Reuters.

"We call on all governments involved in regional matters to refrain from using belligerent rhetoric and to strive for peaceful, constructive dialogue."

Regular meetings

Despite being a close US ally, Abe holds regular meetings with Putin.

The meetings tend to focus on a dispute over the Kuril Islands – a chain of small islands on Japan's northern coast, which have been controlled by Russia since World War II. Japan has repeatedly tried to lay claim on the islands, but the dispute has yet to be resolved.

However, on the issue of North Korea, Putin and Abe struck a closer bond.

Abe said: "President Putin and I have agreed that Japan and Russia will cooperate and call on North Korea to fully comply with the United Nations Security Council's resolutions and refrain from further provocations."

Their press conference comes after the US announced it would seek to toughen its sanctions on the rogue state, following a number of ballistic missile tests and general brinksmanship by North Korea.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News on Thursday that China has also indicated to US President Donald Trump that it will seek to impose unilateral sanctions if Pyongyang carries out another nuclear test.

Abe Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a media briefing following their meeting in Moscow, Russia, 27 April 2017 Reuters