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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Mori Talks in Doubt


TOKYO — The summit, which had been set to address a territorial dispute that has prevented the two nations from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II, could be delayed until at least May, Kyodo news agency said, quoting Japanese government sources.

A Foreign Ministry official said nothing had been firmly decided.

"We are still discussing the issue with Russia," he said.

A summit in the Siberian city Irkutsk had been virtually set for Feb. 25 and 26, but Russia in mid-January suddenly requested a month's postponement.

A Kremlin foreign policy official at that time said only that Moscow expected the meeting to take place in the first three months of the year.

Analysts said the delay was most likely due to the lack of progress toward resolving a territorial dispute involving four tiny Russian-held islands just north of Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido.

Japan wants the return of the islands, which were seized by Soviet troops in the waning days of World War II, before it will sign a peace treaty or hand out substantial financial aid.

Ryutaro Hashimoto, a Cabinet minister and former prime minister whose brief includes responsibility for the islands, alluded to the issue in a speech Monday.

"Unfortunately, the situation is becoming more difficult, as seen by the lack of a decision on the Japan-Russia summit," he said.

In 1997, under Hashimoto, Japan and Russia agreed to try to resolve the dispute by the end of 2000. With that deadline now passed, Japan hopes to find a new way to break the deadlock by the time the leaders of the two nations meet.

First Tourist in Space

The Associated Press

U.S. millionaire Dennis Tito, who hopes to be the first "space tourist," will fly to the International Space Station at the end of April, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency said Tuesday.

Tito, 60, had concluded a multimillion-dollar deal with Russian space officials to visit the Mir space station and has been in training for months with other would-be cosmonauts at Star City outside Moscow.

But his hopes were dashed when the government decided to dump the 15-year-old orbiter in early March.

Now the space agency, the cosmonaut training center and the Energiya space engineering firm have signed a new contract with Tito, providing that the California businessman can hitch a ride to the International Space Station on a Soyuz rocket, said Konstantin Kreidenko, a spokesman for the Russian space agency.

Tito is to blast off April 30 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with two Russian cosmonauts. His trip is scheduled to last for about 10 days, Kreidenko said.

3 Killed in Explosion

The Associated Press

Three workers were killed Tuesday when an explosion ripped through a workshop where nitric acid was produced at a chemical factory in central Russia.

The blast occurred at 3:45 a.m. at the Tatazot factory in the town of Mendeleyevsk, about 700 kilometers east of Moscow, said Viktor Beltsov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Investigators surmise that the explosion occurred when a gas turbine was turned on, Beltsov said. He said nine other workers in the shop were unhurt.

Steam Shovel Heisted

The Moscow Times

A steam shovel with a tractor-trailer belonging to Mosvodokanal, the city's water-supply monopoly, was stolen at a gas station in southern Moscow on Monday, Interfax reported.

Two unidentified men attacked the driver and forced him out of the driver's seat.

They then drove the vehicle outside Moscow, put the driver into a Zhiguli car, took him back to Moscow and dropped him off at the Kolomenskaya metro station.

Law enforcers believe the $7,000 steam shovel could have been stolen by an organized gang specializing in the theft of road and construction equipment, Interfax quoted a police source as saying.