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Abe, Putin agree on new framework but progress in territorial issue unlikely

TV Asahi reported this morning that Prime Minister Abe and Russian President Putin agreed at their 24th summit on the sidelines of the G20 Buenos Aires Summit on Dec. 2 to create a new framework to accelerate negotiations for a peace treaty based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Communique, with Foreign Ministers Kono and Lavrov leading the talks, as a follow-up to what they affirmed at their recent summit in Singapore on Nov. 14. However, Russian presidential assistant Ushakov had reportedly stated shortly before the summit that “the handover of the Northern Territories will not be on the agenda.” He remarked, “For us, half of the problem has been resolved and the other half will have to be decided at the leader level,” indicating that the territorial dispute cannot be resolved at the ministerial-level new framework. Tsukuba University Prof. Itsuro Nakamura, an expert on Russian affairs, explained that by “half of the problem,” Ushakov was referring to the joint economic activities and economic cooperation and by the “other half,” he was talking about the issue of sovereignty over the Northern Territories. The professor suggested that the fact that Lavrov, a hardliner on the territorial issue, will be Russia’s chief negotiator is a very strong message from Russia that it has no intention to make progress on the territorial issue under the new framework.

 

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