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Senior diplomats of Russia, Japan to focus in Tokyo on North Korea’s launch - media

February 11, 5:40 UTC+3 TOKYO
Japan seeks Russia’s support at the UN Security Council for a resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea since it carried out a nuclear test on February 6
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TOKYO, February 11. /TASS/. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov will meet with the director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Kimihiro Ishikane, in Tokyo on February 16 to discuss the situation around North Korea, Japan’s broadcaster NHK said on Thursday.

Japan seeks Russia’s support at the UN Security Council for a resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea since it carried out a nuclear test on February 6 and a day later launched a rocket with a satellite atop.

On Wednesday, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said "On February 15 a regular round of Russian-Japanese consultations will be held in Tokyo at the level of deputy foreign ministers."

"Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov," she went on to say.

Consultations will focus "on the whole range of bilateral relations, including the current situation and prospects for a political dialog, trade-economic cooperation, as well as some international issues, including the situation on the Korean peninsula," Zakharova said.

"It is expected that the sides will exchange opinions on the timeframe for holding a next, third round of negotiations the two foreign ministries conduct on the signing of a peace treaty," she said.

On Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced that a next round of Russian-Japanese consultations would be held on February 15 and said that former Ambassador to Moscow Tikahito Harada would represent Japan.

"Preparations are underway for the meeting of the Japanese and Russian deputy foreign ministers on February 15 in Tokyo," Kishida said adding that he will "promote organizing the meeting of the Japanese and Russian leaders."

The sides are also expected to discuss the latest satellite launch conducted by North Korea over the weekend. "We need to send a powerful signal to North Korea together with Russia," Kishida said.

North Korea successfully launched a satellite into space, its state-run TV said on Monday.

Carrier rocket Kwangmyongsong blasted off from the Sohae Space Center at 9 am Sunday local time, state news agency KCNA said. The Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite entered orbit nine minutes and 46 seconds after the liftoff, an operation "great leader Kim Jong Un personally ordered and directed," the TV announcer said.

Although North Korea said the launch was for scientific and "peaceful purposes" adding it plans to launch more satellites it was viewed by other nations, such as Japan and South Korea, as a front for a ballistic missile test, especially coming on the heels of North Korea's purported hydrogen bomb test last month.

History of Russian-Japanese relations

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to speed up work on a peace treaty in April 2013.

The first round of talks was held in Tokyo in January 2014. Since then, new consultations were repeatedly postponed. Moscow said the pause was not coming from the Russian side.

The second round of the consultations between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama took place last October in Moscow.

Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. Settlement of the 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 the 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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