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Russian deputy prime minister says Abe, Putin have “never” discussed return of islands

NHK reported this morning that although Japan and Russia have agreed to accelerate negotiations for a peace treaty based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Communique, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev, who is in charge of the Far East, was quoted as referring to the Northern Territories on Dec. 10 by saying “the two leaders have never discussed the issue of the handing over of the islands; they have only discussed joint economic activities on these islands,” thus emphasizing  a hard line ahead of the diplomatic negotiations. NHK speculated that Trutnev’s statement was meant to appease Russian public opinion that largely disapproves of the return of the Northern Territories to Japan, and to set conditions in the territorial talks, including a Japanese commitment not to allow the deployment of U.S. Forces to the islands.


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