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Japan expects leaders of Russia, Japan to discuss Kurils in June

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MOSCOW, May 3 (RIA Novosti) - Japan is expecting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to address territorial issues at a meeting in Germany in June, the Japanese Foreign Ministry's spokesman said Thursday.

Mitsuo Sakaba said an agreement was reached at negotiations between the two countries' foreign ministers, Taro Aso of Japan and Sergei Lavrov of Russia, in Moscow Thursday.

"In June [2007] Germany will host a meeting between the Russian president and the Japanese premier, the second meeting between the two countries' top officials since the Hanoi meeting in November 2006," Sakaba said.

He said arrangements for a meeting to be held on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Germany in June would be discussed by the two foreign ministers in Moscow on May 17, and further by the two countries' deputy foreign ministers in Tokyo on May 29.

Russia and Japan have contested the ownership of the four Kuril Islands for over 60 years, a dispute that has kept the countries from signing a formal peace treaty. Japan maintains that their seizure by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II was illegal.

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