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MOSCOW, March 5 (Itar-Tass) — On Monday Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Yoshihiko Noda on the initiative of the Japanese side, the government’s press service reported.
“The Japanese head of government congratulated Putin on the convincing victory in the presidential elections,” the press service said.
Earlier, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said it was necessary to develop partnership with Russia in different fields. “According to the reports by the Russian Central Election Committee, we know that Vladimir Putin is winning. Amidst the changing strategic situation in the Asia-Pacific Region we will seek to build partnership with Russia by strengthening ties in all fields. This is the priority,” the chief cabinet secretary said.
Commenting on the territorial dispute, Fujimura said, “We will hold inter-governmental consultations on their resolution in a calm atmosphere based on the existing agreements and documents, as well as on the principles of legality and justice.”
Japanese government source said that the government is planning to send Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba to Russia in order to step up relations between the two countries. The Japanese minister can arrive in Russia in the short run after a new administration is formed in Russia, the sources said, adding that the Russian-Japanese talks might focus on South Kurile Islands.
Tokyo would like to organise a meeting between the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin as soon as possible. They heads of government of both countries may meet as part of the G-8 summit in Chicago, the sources said.
On Friday the Japanese government gave up the term “illegal occupation”, which was used earlier in regard to South Kurile Islands. Instead of this term, government said, “The islands were seized by Russia beyond its jurisdiction.” This formulation does not change the position of Japan, but it has become softer, the source said.
The Sankei Shimbun newspaper writes that the territorial dispute should be settled through negotiations.
Speaking at a rally on February 7, the Japanese prime minister said, “The problem of Northern Territories is one of the key issues in the Russian-Japanese relations. We hope for cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect. Japan and Russia play an important role in the Asia-Pacific Region and we should develop relations in compliance with the existing agreements.”
Last Thursday Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the editors in chief of several foreign editions that Russia was seeking a reasonable compromise in the territorial dispute with Japan. “We should do so that the territorial problem stops being significant and even moves to the background. We should view each other not just as neighbours, but as true friends interested in development,” he said.