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Iran Press TV

Russia-Japan peace deal remains elusive

Iran Press TV

Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:56AM

The leaders of Russia and Japan have failed to reach a peace deal to formally end World War II hostilities between them following a meeting in the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Tokyo on Friday to discuss a potential resolution of a dispute over the Kuril islands, a row that dates back to the WWII era.

While they signed economic agreements during their Friday meeting, they failed to reach an agreement on the islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories.

Putin arrived in Japan to discuss the matter on Thursday. He held a first meeting with Abe in the southwestern city of Nagato on the day he arrived. They held a joint news conference in Tokyo, where they held a second meeting, on Friday.

During the presser, Putin said Russia attached more importance to the signing of a peace deal with Japan than to its economic interests.

"For me, the most important thing is to sign a peace deal [with Japan] because that would create the conditions for long-term co-operation," he said.

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, dismissing Japanese complaints.

For his part, Abe said during the presser that the path toward striking a deal with Russia over the islands was "difficult." He said the objective could not be achieved without mutual trust.

The difficulty Abe was referring to was in part put on display on Friday, when the two leaders made references to history in what sometimes appeared to be tacit lectures addressed to the other side at the joint presser.

Putin did say, however, that Russia may relax rules for Japanese citizens to visit the Kuril islands in the Pacific.

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