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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin to Visit Japan

  • President Vladimir Putin is to head to Japan Sunday on a visit he hopes will cap a big thaw in ties, but he seems unlikely to win any breakthrough over an elusive peace treaty.

    Russia and Japan agreed in 1997 to work toward clinching a peace treaty by 2000 formally ending World War II hostilities.

    But Tokyo insists on the return of four islands held by Moscow since 1945.

    Moscow has signaled it favors a broader friendship treaty that would defer a decision on the islands.

    A senior Kremlin aide told reporters Thursday: "This visit is exceptionally important for Russia. … It will have very serious and substantial results in both the economic and political fields."

    "The important thing is that our negotiations are taking place in a calmer, more friendly atmosphere. Both countries are beginning to understand each other better," a Japanese diplomat in Moscow said.

    "For us, the territorial question is one of justice and territorial integrity," he added.