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Lavrov questions why Abe is confident of ending island row

Moscow, Feb. 24 (Jiji Press) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has questioned why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is confident of resolving the longstanding territorial dispute between Japan and Russia.

Lavrov said in an interview with Vietnamese and Chinese media that he does not know where his conviction comes from, according to an announcement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday.

The ministry quoted Lavrov as saying that neither he nor Russian President Vladimir Putin has provided a basis for Abe’s remarks.

Russia has not set any deadline for bilateral talks on concluding a World War II peace treaty and there is no planned framework for an agreement, Lavrov said. He added that he does not understand what the Japanese side means to say by Abe’s remarks.

The territorial dispute over four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands, which were seized from Japan by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II, has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a peace treaty to put a formal end to their wartime hostilities.

Putin said in a speech on Wednesday that Russia is ready to work with Japan to explore mutually acceptable conditions for concluding a peace treaty.

On the remarks, Lavrov said that although Russia is working carefully on the issue, such conditions are totally absent at present, according to the ministry.

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