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Japanese PM's plans to visit Russia unchanged — official

February 24, 8:48 UTC+3 TOKYO
Reports in the Japanese media suggested US President Barack Obama asked Shinzo Abe in a telephone conversation in early February to refrain from visiting Russia
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© AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

TOKYO, February 24. /TASS/. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans to visit Russia remain unchanged, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday.

"There are no changes in our policy towards Russia," he said. "As we've been doing it so far, we'll continue active collaboration with the G7 on the problems the international community is confronted with."

"In this first place, it is the situation in Ukraine, and as for the Prime Minister Abe's visit of Russia at a suitable moment, we're working on it," Suga said.

He made his remarks against the backdrop of reports in the Japanese media suggesting US President Barack Obama asked Shinzo Abe in a telephone conversation at the beginning of February to refrain from visiting Russia.

Obama said allegedly the present moment was not the best one for a trip to Russia. He cited the differences between Moscow and Washington on Ukraine and Syria.

Suga refused to either to confirm or to refute the information, saying he would like to stay away from commenting on the contents of the conversation.

On February 15, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and the Japanese government's special representative for Russia, Chikahito Harada held consultations in Moscow. Harada said upon their completion the two sides would continue political dialogue and a possibility of Prime Minister Abe's unofficial visit and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Japan was being mulled for the purpose.

Japanese media said earlier on a number of occasions Abe might visit Sochi at the end of April or the beginning of May for a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin press service has not confirmed any details of these plans so far. Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on February 5 the issue of Abe's visit was considered but the Japanese government had not indicated its intentions yet.

"Putin and Abe discussed a possibility of a visit in one or another format at their previous meeting and Abe's possible trip to a Russian region has been considered," he said. "We can't offer any more clarifications at the moment. The Japanese side has not familiarized us with its plans and that's why we can offer any details."

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