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Abe, Putin affirm forward-looking isle, peace treaty talks

Pool photo / AP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Thursday.

Jiji Press VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed Thursday that the two nations will work on negotiations on their decades-old territorial row and the conclusion of a bilateral peace treaty in a future-oriented manner.

But the two leaders made no concrete progress over the issues at the meeting, held in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East on the fringe of an annual Eastern Economic Forum session, hosted by the Russian government, according to sources with access to the meeting.

Abe and Putin instructed Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who were both present at the bilateral summit, to continue work for finding a solution acceptable to both sides. The leaders agreed to hold another meeting, on the occasion of a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Chile on Nov. 16-17.

On Thursday, Putin talked via a video link with workers of a new fishery processing plant built by a Russian firm on Shikotan, one of the four northern territories at the center of the territorial dispute.

Abe informed Putin of Japan’s position on the move, according to a Japanese official accompanying the prime minister on his ongoing trip to Vladivostok. But the official refrained from disclosing conversations exchanged between Abe and Putin on the row over the islands.

The biggest focus in the 27th Abe-Putin meeting was whether they can break the impasse in the territorial and peace treaty issues.

At the beginning of the talks, which lasted about 75 minutes, Putin said that Japan-Russia relations are developing in a stable and dynamic manner.

Abe said, “I want to exchange views on the envisioned peace treaty and global issues with President Putin.”

The islands were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II. The territorial spat has been preventing Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

At the meeting in Singapore last November, Abe and Putin agreed to accelerate the territorial and peace treaty negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration, which called for the handover of two of the four islands — Shikotan and the Habomais — to Japan after the conclusion of the peace treaty. The document had no reference to the other two islands —Etorofu and Kunashiri.

The leaders then appointed the two countries’ foreign ministers to lead the negotiations.

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