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FM Lavrov: Russia ready to discuss peace treaty with Japan

FM Lavrov: Russia ready to discuss peace treaty with Japan
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that his country was ready to hold talks on peace treaty with Japan, but said that any ultimatums or single-sided demands in such talks were unacceptable.

­The Russian official spoke to the Japanese TV station NHK after meeting with Tokyo’s Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto in Paris on Monday. At the meeting, Lavrov assured his Japanese counterpart that Russia was ready to provide additional help to Japan in connection with recent natural disasters and the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Matsumoto thanked Lavrov and said that Russia’s support will encourage the Japanese people.

However, the subsequent television interview touched upon sensitive issues in Russian-Japanese relations – namely, the peace treaty and Japan’s claims for four pacific Islands known as Kurils.

Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was ready for further dialogue on the peace treaty and added that Moscow was very interested in it as well. He also stressed that Russian authorities wanted the new treaty to be universal, covering all issues, including those of security, as this matter has been gaining more and more urgency.

At the same time, the Russian official said that such dialogue and particular peace talks were possible only if none of the sides puts forward single-sided conditions and single-sided interpretations of historical facts. He reminded that the heads of state of the two countries had previously agreed to conduct the dialogue in a cool, calm and collect manner, without any emotions, or ultimatum-like demands. But when Japanese official take on radical views of certain extremist groups, dialogue becomes impossible, the Russian official said.

“If we follow the principle agreements on creating the necessary atmosphere, on refusal to encourage extremist and radical demands and actions, like burning of Russian flag by representatives of Japanese extremist organizations, such dialogue, I think, is possible,” the Russian minister said.

The Russian official also reiterated the position on visits to the Kurils by Russian officials. “As for the visits in principle, this is our inseparable right and purely internal affair. We will not take anyone’s advice on this. Moreover, we are not going to follow anyone’s recommendations on where we should travel within our own country,” Lavrov said.

He reminded the Japanese side that when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited one of the Kurils in November he conducted a complex inspection on development of the social and economic basis of the islands as provided by the federal target program, up to 2015.  

At the same time, the Russian official stressed that his country was interested in peaceful cooperation with its neighbors, including Japan. “People are interested in communication, they want to mutually profit from trade and other forms of economic cooperation, from cultural interaction, and exchange of delegations. We continue to stand for travel without obstructions between Japan and the Kurils,” the Russian minister stressed.