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Japan, Russia to create new framework for peace treaty talks

Tokyo, Nov. 28 (Jiji Press) — The Japanese and Russian governments are considering creating a new high-level framework for accelerating talks on the two countries’ longstanding territorial issue and a World War II peace treaty, it was learned Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to agree on the launch of the dialogue framework when they hold a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the two-day summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in Buenos Aires from Friday, Japanese government sources said.

In the new framework, Japan and Russia are expected to discuss the issue of sovereignty over four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands at the center of the territorial row and other challenges toward concluding a bilateral peace treaty, according to the sources.

The first meeting will be held by year-end at the earliest, ahead of an envisaged visit by Abe to Russia in January, the sources said.

Shotaro Yachi, head of the secretariat for the National Security Council, and Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba are slated to represent Japan at the new framework.

Russian members may include Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the country’s Security Council, and Yuri Ushakov, an aide to Putin, according to the sources.

Tokyo and Moscow have still been unable to conclude a peace treaty to formally end their World War II hostilities due to the territorial dispute. The islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan, were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of the war.

At their meeting in Singapore on Nov. 14, Abe and Putin agreed to accelerate the peace treaty talks based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration, which stipulated that two of the four islands–the Habomais and Shikotan–be handed over to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty.

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