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[ALJAZEERA] Russia and Japan vow to solve islands dispute

Leaders Vladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe pledge to overcome “existing differences” on six decades dispute through talks.

Last Modified: 29 Apr 2013 14:29

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have pledged to renew talks on solving a territorial dispute over Pacific islands that has prevented the two countries from signing a World War II peace treaty.

The two leaders agreed it was “abnormal” their countries had not signed a peace treaty 67 years after the end of World War II, according to a joint declaration adopted in the Kremlin on Monday.

They expressed determination to overcome “the existing differences” on the islands dispute through talks, the declaration said.

“We have instructed our foreign ministries to step up contacts on working out mutually acceptable options” for an end to the dispute, Putin said after talks with Abe.

They gave no indication that the meeting had produced any further progress towards a resolution of the dispute over four Pacific islands which Russia calls the Southern Kuriles and Japan calls the Northern Territories.

Abe’s trip is the first high level visit to Moscow by a Japanese official in a decade amid lack of full bilateral ties between the the two countries.

Since returning to power in December, Abe has made a priority of improving relations with Russia and given rise to cautious hope by backing the resumption of stalled talks on a solution.

Without directly referring to the islands dispute, Abe hailed the development of relations with Russia during Putin’s 13-year presidency of the country but admitted more needed to be done.

“The potential for cooperation has not been unlocked sufficiently and it is necessary to increase the cooperation between our countries as partners,” he said.

Abe has made clear he wants to build a strong personal relationship with Putin as the basis for solving the two countries’ problematic relations.

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