Abe says upcoming talks with Putin will be «extremely important»

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday his talks next month and beyond with Russian President Vladimir Putin will be very significant as he has sought to settle a long-standing territorial dispute with the country over a group of islets and sign a postwar peace treaty.

«I will build next-generation Japan-Russia ties,» Abe said in a speech at the headquarters of Kyodo News in Tokyo. «From next month and thereafter, I believe summit meetings with President Putin will be extremely important.»

Abe has said he plans to hold talks with Putin at least two more times by the end of the year when they attend international meetings, one of which will possibly be a summit in November of the Group of 20 economies in Argentina, in an attempt to break an impasse over the sovereignty of the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

Abe’s remarks came after Putin surprised the Japanese leader last month during a regional economic forum in Vladivostok by proposing the two countries conclude a post-World War II peace treaty «without any preconditions» by the end of 2018.

The islands are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. They were seized by the Soviet Union after Japan surrendered in World War II in August 1945.

Abe also said he wants to take bilateral ties with China to a «new stage» when he visits Beijing later this month to hold talks with President Xi Jinping.

«I hope to expand exchanges between people of the two countries in all areas through reciprocal visits by the leaders,» Abe said.

It will be Abe’s first official visit to China, apart from trips to attend international conferences, since he took office in late 2012.

(The Russian-held Kunashiri island seen in distance off Hokkaido) 

Abe also reiterated his willingness to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to resolve outstanding issues, including Pyongyang’s past abductions of Japanese nationals, which is one of his central political goals.

«I seek to normalize diplomatic relations (with Pyongyang) by settling the North Korean abduction, nuclear and missile issues and clearing away the sad past,» he said.

All — Kyodo News+

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