09:55 GMT +3 hours26 May 2016

Russian official says no peace treaty needed over Kurils dispute

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VLADIVOSTOK, August 2 (RIA Novosti, Anatoly Ilyukhov) - There is no reason to sign a peace treaty with Japan over the Kuril Islands, Presidential Envoy in the Far East Federal District Konstantin Pulikovsky said Tuesday.

Japan has made the return of the Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai islands, which it calls the Northern Territories, a condition of concluding a peace treaty with Russia. These islands passed to the Soviet Union after World War II.

Pulikovsky said Russia and Japan have good relations, particularly, in the economic and tourist spheres, without a peace treaty.

"The problem of the so-called Northern Territories is more of a PR platform for election campaigns of Japanese politicians," Pulikovsky said. "This is their domestic affair, which does not concern Russia."

The Kuril Islands are a unique archipelago with major fish and crab reserves, which also opens a passage of Russian ships from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Pacific Ocean, Pulikovsky said.

"Russian business is developing on the Kuril Islands. Enterprises, piers, airports and settlements are being built and working there," he said, adding that the archipelago would soon be prosperous.

Russia acknowledges that there is a territorial problem with Japan, but rejects Japan's demand for the return of the four islands.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after his recent visit to Japan that a Russian-Japanese peace treaty could not be concluded "under current conditions."

"The positions of the sides are directly opposite," he said. "We have lived without a peace treaty and it has not hampered the development of varied cooperation."

Lavrov also said Russia would not draft any peace treaty proposals before President Vladimir Putin's visit to Japan, scheduled for late November.

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