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27 Jan, 2019 13:11

Russia keen to sign peace treaty, not ‘give or get anything’ from Japan – Moscow

Russia keen to sign peace treaty, not ‘give or get anything’ from Japan – Moscow

Signing a peace treaty, not “giving or getting anything,” is the reason Russia continues its dialogue with Japan, the Kremlin said amid lingering talks over the four Kuril Islands.

“Our major objective not to give or get anything, but to sign a peace treaty [with Japan],” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya-1 on Sunday. Currently, Moscow and Tokyo are stuck in uneasy talks over the simmering territorial dispute.

Japan, a close US ally, is sticking to the sanctions imposed by Washington, which makes dialogue even more challenging, Peskov said. “They support the sanctions regime and this is one of the issues and situations that hamper signing the peace treaty.”

Other stumbling blocks include Japan’s attempts to involve its ally, the US, in the talks. Recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the idea “outrageous,” raising the issue with his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that Moscow is keen to see a peace treaty signed. Later this month, he will hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to continue discussions on the proposed peace deal. Last year, Putin proposed a deal without any pre-conditions, but Abe later called the idea “unacceptable.”

Moscow and Tokyo ended World War II hostilities without a formal peace treaty. Known in Japan as Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai, the islands in the Sea of Okhotsk were handed over to the USSR under the 1945 Potsdam Declaration. Since then, Tokyo has tried to claim the four Russian Kuril Islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories.

Japan has actively discussed the prospect of regaining sovereignty over the southernmost part of the archipelago, which includes Shikotan Island and Habomai. In November of last year, Putin and Abe said they would work on a peace deal based on the 1956 declaration signed by Japan and the USSR.

The document envisages the prospects of a sovereignty handover, though the wording is vague. Still, the declaration says the move would be possible only after the two sides sign a peace treaty. Tokyo, however, maintains that the territorial dispute should be resolved first.

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