Russia's Putin tells Japan's Abe: Let's sign peace deal this year

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"Japan and Russian Federation - both President Putin and myself - share the same position and determination to solve our territorial disputes", he said.

The Eastern Economic Forum is an worldwide forum held each year since 2015 to encourage foreign investment in the Russian Far East.

A treaty without preconditions would leave Russian Federation in control of the disputed islands, which Russian Federation calls the Southern Kuriles and Japan calls the Northern Territories. During the talks in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin and Abe discussed the idea of building a railway bridge from Sakhalin to mainland Russian Federation, which could later be extended to the Kuril Islands and Japan.

Both are opposed to USA missile defense systems deployed close to their borders, which they see as tools that offset the Chinese and Russian nuclear deterrents. "Let's conclude a peace treaty before the end of this year, without any preconditions".

Their two countries have been in dispute for seven decades over a chain of Pacific islands and as a result have still not formally ended their World War II hostilities.

There was no immediate response from Abe, whose country has sought the return of the islands that lie northeast of Hokkaido since the war. In September, 1951, the Soviet Union refused to sign the Peace Treaty of San Francisco with Japan.

President Putin also stressed the importance of bilateral economic and trade cooperation between Moscow and Seoul, citing the 27 percent increase in trade volume between the two countries last year, and the 8 percent increase in the first half of this year.

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Putin implied that, after a peace agreement was reached, further talks could be held regarding the wider dispute. Russian Federation has sovereignty over the islands.

The Russian leader said he wanted to clinch the peace treaty first and then continue to discuss the territorial issue with Abe as "friends", during a question and answer session of the forum's plenary meeting.

In the past, Russian Federation and Japan have proposed initiating various joint economic projects on the disputed islands as a first step in resolving the conflict.

"We've been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years".

Abe has proposed making the islands a joint economic zone, which could lead to a settlement.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a treaty with Russian Federation would be signed "after resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands", referring to the disputed territory.

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