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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japan PM Expected to Visit Early Next Year

TOKYO, Japan - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's visit to Russia will not take place until the first quarter of next year, a senior Russian foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

"The time remaining (this year) is limited and both leaders have tight schedules, so January-March is practical," the official said in an interview with public broadcaster NHK.

Mori met Russian President Vladimir Putin this month on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Brunei, and the two leaders agreed to meet again in the Russian city of Irkutsk near Lake Baikal, possibly by the end of this year, to try to sign a World War Two peace treaty.

Putin's predecessor Boris Yeltsin and then-prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto vowed in 1997 to work towards clinching a peace treaty by the end of 2000. That deadline now seems impossible to meet.

A dispute over four tiny Russian-held islands that Japan wants back has blocked the signing of a peace treaty for more than half a century. Soviet troops seized the islands, off Japan's main northern island of Hokkaido, at the end of the war in 1945.