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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Scant Progress Made Over Kuril Dispute

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Sakhalin Island -- Japan and Russia made scant progress on resolving a decades-old dispute over the Kuril Islands at a leaders' summit on Wednesday.

"On the territories issue, we have agreed to speed up detailed work on a creative, out-of-the-box approach to resolving it within our generation," Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso told reporters after meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev on Sakhalin Island.

Aso's day trip is the first to Sakhalin by a Japanese leader since it was seized by the Soviet Union, along with the chain of neighboring Kuril Islands, in the last days of World War II.

Neither side accepts the other's claim of sovereignty over the sparsely populated islands, the closest of which is just 15 kilometers from Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido.

Asked what new approach the two leaders had discussed at the meeting, Aso said only that the two sides would remain at an impasse if they stuck to past positions and that the issue needed a political decision rather than talks among bureaucrats.

The two sides agreed to keep up with exchanges between senior officials, including a visit by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Japan in May.