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Russia seeks to resolve South Kurile Islands issue - Putin

May 24, 2014, 19:28 UTC+3 ST PETERSBURG

“If we think about it and move forward, I believe that there is nothing impossible,” he said

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ST PETERSBURG, May 24 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia seeks to resolve the South Kurile Islands issue, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said.

Answering a Japanese journalist’s question on the South Kurile problem, Putin said, “Both Russia and Japan sincerely wish the problem be solved.”

At the same time, he said this problem should not encroach upon the interests of each other.

An acceptable compromise should be reached so that no party felt lost, Putin said.

“What is ‘hiki-wake’ [the principle of neither winner nor loser] in this case? If I knew a final answer, we’d sign all documents,” he said.

“There is no final solution. It can be found due to the joint hard work,” Putin said.

“If we think about it and move forward, I believe that there is nothing impossible,” he said.

Under the 1956 Declaration, ratified by the USSR Supreme Council and the Japanese parliament, “in my view, Article 9 implies the Soviet Union is ready to discuss the handover of two islands to Japan”, Putin said.

“But the article says nothing about any terms and sovereignty. The article envisions the handover of these two islands and of all four. This is the subject of our talks that are very difficult. This is a dispute from the past and it complicates our relations,” Putin said.

He expressed bewilderment that this issue fall “the victim of sanctions”. “Are we ready to hold talks [on the South Kurile dispute]? Yes, we are,” he said.

“But recently we’re surprised by hearing Japan join any sanctions and suspend the negotiations on the dispute. I don’t understand what has that to do with Japan,” Putin said.

Russia is ready to discuss the South Kurile issue, but “I can’t say if Japan is”, he said.

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