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Putin, Abe to discuss Kuril Islands but progress in talks will require time — Kremlin

May 05, 16:51 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The issue is complex and not just one meeting or one round of consultations at the level of the foreign ministries will be required to reach mutually acceptable settlement, Putin's aide says
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© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. Progress in solving the Kuril Islands problem will require numerous contacts between Moscow and Tokyo, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said on Thursday ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"This theme will be discussed [at the talks]," the presidential aide said.

"This issue is complex and not just one meeting or one round of consultations at the level of the foreign ministries will be required to reach mutually acceptable settlement," Ushakov said.

"But in order to make progress in solving it, it is necessary to create a positive, constructive atmosphere of bilateral relations, which could bring both sides closer to each other rather than move them farther away from each other in solving the problem," the presidential aide said.

According to Ushakov, the talks between Putin and Abe will raise the issue of the 60th anniversary of a joint declaration of 1956 signed between the Soviet Union and Japan on ending the state of war. "That is, the issues of a peace treaty will naturally be discussed as well."

"Our position is that this is a complex and multifaceted issue and can be settled only on the terms acceptable for both sides," the presidential aide said.

"Moreover, these issues can be settled only by way of establishing even closer partnership between our countries and developing truly broad cooperation in the economic, scientific and technical and cultural spheres, as well as arranging active interaction on the international scene," the presidential aide said.

The dialog on this issue between Russia and Japan has been held at the level of the foreign ministries and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov is participating in it on Moscow’s behalf, Ushakov said.

"Already several rounds of such talks have been held and we consider them as quite useful and are interested in their continuation. In particular, we’re ready at tomorrow’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister to propose holding a new round of these consultations somewhere at the beginning of summer of this year, perhaps in June," the Russian presidential aide said.

Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. The settlement of this problem inherited by Russia’s diplomacy from the Soviet Union is hampered by the years-long dispute over the four islands of Russia’s Southern Kurils Shikotan, Khabomai, Iturup and Kunashir, which Japan calls its northern territories.

After World War II, in September 1945, Japan signed its capitulation, and in February 1946, the Kuril Islands were declared territories of the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, Moscow did not recognize the territorial problem, but in October 1993, when Russian president Boris Yeltsin was on an official visit in Japan, the existence of the problem was confirmed officially. However, the two countries have reached no compromise over the dispute yet.

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