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Lavrov: first step under 1956 declaration on peace treaty is signing of it

December 03, 2016, 14:47 updated at: December 03, 2016, 15:03 UTC+3

"President Putin has confirmed many times, Russia adheres to this document," Foreign Minister said

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© Mihail Dzhaparidze/TASS

MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Implementation of the declaration between the USSR and Japan on a peace treaty should begin from signing of the agreement, and details should be agreed according to the changed conditions, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday.

"President Putin has confirmed many times, Russia adheres to this document," he said. "Clearly, the conditions which were in the world and between our countries 60 years ago were different from the positions Russia and Japan have now in the international system."

"If it comes to implementation of the 1956 declaration, we shall have to discuss many details regarding how it should be implemented," he continued. "But the first step regarding the 1956 declaration between Japan and the USSR should be signing of a peace treaty."

Case history

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, Habomai, Iturup and Kunashir, which Japan calls its northern territories.

After World War II, in September 1945, Japan signed its surrender, and in February 1946, the Kuril Islands were declared territories of the Soviet Union. In 1956, the USSR and Japan signed a Joint Declaration thus re-establishing bilateral diplomatic, trade and other kinds of relations after World War II. According to the document, the USSR unilaterally expressed readiness to return the Shikotan and Hamobai islands as a gesture of good will, but only after signing a peace treaty. This deal was rejected by Japan that, in the context of the Cold War, claimed the Kunashir and Iturup islands as well.

In early September, Putin and Abe met in Russia’s Vladivostok during the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) and agreed to step up bilateral talks. They decided to meet in Peru at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November. In December, the Russian leader is expected to pay a visit to Japan.

It is complicated

It is not easy to bring closer the principal positions of Moscow and Tokyo on a peace treaty, but the sides are ready for working on practical issues to develop cooperation between bordering regions, Russia's Foreign Minister said.

"It is not easy to bring closer the principal positions of the parties, the problem is complicated, he said.

"As for the question, whether related to a peace treaty there are common positions - yes," the minister said. "This common position is in clearly expressed political aspirations of our leaders to find a mutually acceptable solution, which could be acceptable for public in both countries."

"But, despite all these problems, we have expressed the common readiness to attempt making progress in settling practical issues, thus favoring development of cooperation between neighboring regions of the two countries," the Russian minister added.

"The work on this problem continues, it will continue to the summit," he said. "Results of the work will be reported to the leaders."

Russia, Japan have common positions 

Russia and Japan have common positions related to a peace treaty, Sergei Lavrov said.

"As for the question, whether related to a peace treaty there are common positions - yes," the minister said. "This common position is in clearly expressed political aspirations of our leaders to find a mutually acceptable solution, which could be acceptable for public in both countries."

Lavrov said, President Putin many times said "we are not only ready, but also want to settle this problem."

"But this is a complicated issue, which requires patient, detailed, continuous work," the foreign minister said. "This is not favored, of course, by the emotional aggravation of this topic in the media, either confrontational or having groundless expectations for immediate progress."

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