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Iran Press TV

Russia leader in Japan to discuss ties, peace deal on islands row

Iran Press TV

Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:7PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin is on an official visit to Japan to discuss bilateral issues, including a territorial dispute between the two countries which has lingered on since the end of World War II.

On Thursday, Putin met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's in the southwestern city Nagato, where the pair held talks on their decades-long dispute on four Moscow-controlled islands in the Pacific, to which they have overlapping claims, among other issues of bilateral significance.

The row over the southern Kuril islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, has prevented the two neighbors from deepening their strategic relations for some 70 years.

Moscow and Tokyo have long been seeking a peace agreement which would officially put an end the two countries' wartime hostilities. The four islands were seized by the ex-Soviet Union in the final year of World War II.

Japan says the Soviet Union took the islands illegally. Moscow, however, cites the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, which abolished Japan's sovereignty over the islands, describing Tokyo's claims as unfounded.

Following the talks, Abe said his talks with Putin were, for the most part, focused on the territorial dispute.

"We had in-depth discussions on a peace treaty," Abe told reporters.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said that his side is offering to restart talks on a security agreement among their foreign and defense ministers. Discussions on the topic were suspended after Crimea separated from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in a 2014 referendum, causing Western sanctions.

"The prime minister has reacted positively, so we hope such a decision will be taken," Lavrov said as the two leaders continued their one-on-one talks.

Meanwhile, media reported the two sides will also likely sign deals in the areas of energy and health.

Kremlin economic aide Yuri Ushakov said separately that the two sides would issue a statement about possible joint economic activity on the disputed islands on Friday.

Over the decades, the two sides have at times floated the idea of joint economic activity on the islands, but they have failed to figure out how to do so without undercutting either side's claim to sovereignty.

Lavrov said Abe and Putin also reviewed the conflict in Syria as well as the impact of US military presence in Asia.

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