Japan, Russia to Fully Start Peace Treaty Talks in Mid-Jan.


Tokyo, Dec. 22 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is considering visiting Moscow around Jan. 14 to hold talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for the conclusion of a bilateral peace treaty, Japanese government sources said Saturday.

Kono and Lavrov will meet with each other for the first time since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on a new framework for the peace treaty talks in Buenos Aires on Dec. 1 and let the two ministers be held responsible for the negotiations.

Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and his Russian counterpart, Igor Morgulov, were named special envoys to Abe and Putin, respectively, to take charge of the talks.

The Kono-Lavrov meeting will mark the launch of full-fledged negotiations to resolve the two countries' longstanding territorial row over four northwestern Pacific islands that were occupied by then Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II and conclude a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

Before the Buenos Aires summit, Abe and Putin agreed in Singapore in November to accelerate the talks based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration, which stipulates that two of the four disputed islands--the Habomais and Shikotan--be handed over to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty.

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