Rus­sia and Ja­pan ‘striv­ing to resolve’ is­land dis­pute

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Russian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov said yes­ter­day ahead of a visit to Ja­pan by Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin that the coun­tries’ lead­ers are push­ing to end a ter­ri­to­rial row dat­ing back to World War II. Re­la­tions be­tween Moscow and Tokyo have been strained for decades over of the sta­tus of four Pacific is­lands near Ja­pan’s north coast, known as the South­ern Kurils in Rus­sia and the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ries in Ja­pan.

“The main area where our po­si­tions con­cur is the clearcut politi­cal striv­ing of our lead­ers for a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able res­o­lu­tion,” Lavrov said af­ter talks with his Ja­panese coun­ter­part Fu­mio Kishida in Moscow. Ja­panese Pres­i­dent Shinzo Abe is due to meet Putin on De­cem­ber 15 in the city of Ya­m­aguchi in western Ja­pan with the aim of mak­ing progress on the ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute. It will be Putin’s first such visit since 2005. “We have an in­ter­est in re­solv­ing this pro­tracted prob­lem,” Lavrov said, while ad­mit­ting: “it’s clear that it’s not sim­ple to bring the two sides’ po­si­tions closer.”

Kishida said the talks were “mean­ing­ful, im­por­tant and use­ful” ahead of a visit he called the most im­por­tant event in the coun­tries’ re­la­tions this year. The row dates from the end of World War II when Soviet troops seized the south­ern­most is­lands in an ar­chi­pel­ago off the northeast coast of Hokkaido just af­ter Ja­pan sur­ren­dered. The seven-decade dis­pute over the is­lands’ own­er­ship has kept Moscow and Tokyo from sign­ing a post-war peace treaty and hin­dered trade and in­vest­ment. Rus­sia prompted protests from Ja­pan last month by de­ploy­ing coastal mis­sile sys­tems to boost its mil­i­tary pres­ence on the is­lands.

“On the ques­tion of the peace treaty, we would like to reach a re­sult that would be wel­comed by the peo­ple both of Ja­pan and Rus­sia,” Kishida said in com­ments trans­lated into Russian. He said he wanted “en­er­getic talks” to “fi­nally resolve the sovereignty of the four is­lands in a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able form and con­clude a peace treaty.” Lavrov said the diplo­mats “ex­pressed mu­tual readi­ness to try to move for­ward in re­solv­ing prac­ti­cal ques­tions.” He said they agreed “to con­tinue the line that our lead­ers agreed on the ut­most all-round devel­op­ment of our re­la­tions in all spheres with­out ex­cep­tion.” — AFP

AMGAON: An In­dian vil­lager prays by the car­cass of a wild Asi­atic male ele­phant at Amgaon, near Gauhati, the cap­i­tal of the north­east­ern In­dian state of As­sam. Ac­cord­ing to for­est of­fi­cer RK Das, the ele­phant died af­ter it was elec­tro­cuted by a high ten­sion elec­tric wire when it was search­ing for food on the bor­der of Am­chang wildlife sanc­tu­ary on Fri­day night. — AP

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