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Putin says Japanese PM to visit Russia on May 6

AFP , Wednesday 20 Apr 2016
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on May 6, with a long-simmering territorial dispute expected to top the agenda.

"I expect that the working visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe planned to take place in Sochi on May 6 will facilitate the widening of Russian-Japanese ties on the basis of mutual advantage and taking each other's interests into account," he told foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin.

"The development of multi-faceted dialogue with Japan is one of our foreign policy priorities," he said.

The planned meeting in Sochi, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, comes ahead of a Group of Seven summit to be hosted by Abe in late May.

The G7 bloc of advanced industrial countries comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

It formerly included Russia under a G8 configuration, but Moscow was evicted following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Tokyo-Moscow relations have been hamstrung by the row that dates back to the end of World War II when Soviet troops seized the four southernmost islands in the Kuril chain, known as the Northern Territories in Japan.

Over the years various leaders of both countries have met several times to discuss the dispute but a resolution has been elusive.

The lingering tensions have prevented them from signing a peace treaty, which has hindered trade and investment ties.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Japan that Moscow was ready to continue the dialogue, but added: "Our approach -- we have to confirm the result of World War II -- is unchanged."

His Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida said that the two countries agreed "to start negotiations on signing a peace treaty as soon as possible following our prime minister's visit to Russia."

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