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Russia cites gaps in peace treaty talks with Japan

Moscow, March 21 (Jiji Press) — Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov on Thursday mentioned the differences of positions taken by Japan and Russia in bilateral efforts to conclude a World War II peace treaty.

The two countries are at the very start of the road of negotiations, Morgulov said, claiming that there remain essential differences in how to approach the issue.

The senior diplomat made these remarks at the opening of a meeting in Moscow with Japanese Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori.

At the meeting, Mori stressed the need to strengthen Japan-Russia relations. He then said, “It’s indispensable for us to solve a difficult problem that has remained pending for long years and conclude a peace treaty.”

A territorial dispute between the two countries over the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, northernmost Japan, has prevented them from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

Mori and Morgulov last met on March 5.

After the latest meeting with his Russian counterpart, Mori told reporters that he hopes the two countries’ negotiators will continue to cooperate closely and make good preparations toward Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Japan and a Japan-Russia summit in June.

On Wednesday, Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin said arrangements are being made to hold a so-called two-plus-two meeting in Japan among the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers sometime soon this year.

Mori and Morgulov may have discussed a plan to arrange the two-plus-two meeting on the occasion of Lavrov’s visit to Japan.

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