18:42 GMT09 April 2020
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the second round of talks during the visit of the Russian leader to Japan and discussed a number of issues, including the peace treaty, as well as the developments in Syria's Aleppo and bilateral economic cooperation.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The official Russian delegation headed by Putin is visiting Japan on December 15-16. The visit is widely seen as a breakthrough in the Russian-Japanese relations, taking into account that it had been postponed since 2014.

    On Thursday, Putin and Abe held talks in the city of Nagato in the Yamaguchi Prefecture. On Friday, both leaders continued the negotiations in Tokyo and then held a joint press conference.

    Is Peace Treaty Possible?

    Ahead of Putin's visit to Japan, the Russian leader gave an interview to Japanese media outlets, saying that the absence of the peace treaty between the two states after the World War II was an "anachronism," which should be removed. The sides have no the treaty due to a disagreement over the group of islands, which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan the Northern Territories, encompassing Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai.

    Speaking at the press conference, after the negotiations, Abe said that on Thursday the two leaders discussed the peace treaty for five hours and were able to understand each other, adding that Tokyo and Moscow were approaching the situation to solve the crisis.

    "Now, after 71 years of absence of the peace treaty we are approaching the period when we will be able to, step by step, with our own hands implement the actions which would make the dream of former and current residents of the [Kuril] islands come true," Abe said, adding that the sides had a lot of to do on the issue yet.

    The prime minister proposed to create a zone of cohabitation of Russians and the Japanese on the Kuril Islands.

    "I would like to ensure that those who used to live on the islands and those who live on the islands now are able on the basis of trust to develop ties and cooperation and creation of conditions where they could cohabitate, work and think of the future of these islands," Abe said, adding that the two leaders agreed to create a special regime to establish joint economic actions that should not be at anyone’s expense.

    His words were echoed by Putin, who said that the peace treaty was important and cooperation of Tokyo and Moscow on the Kuril Islands would contribute to create a favorable atmosphere for talks on a peace treaty between the countries.

    "Resolving this issue requires painstaking work to build mutual trust and all-round development of the entire range of Russian-Japanese relations. In this context, Mr Abe and I supported an initiative of establishing joint economic activities on the Southern Kurils. We hope that such cooperation will contribute to creating a favorable atmosphere for the continuation of negotiations on the conclusion of a peace treaty," the Russian leader said.

    At the same time the president said that Russia should know what to expect in talks with Japan on the peace treaty issue, taking into account Tokyo’s special relationship with the United States.

    Economic Cooperation

    At the press conference, the Russian leader said that the signing of the peace treaty between Russia and Japan was more important than economic issues, but the economic relations between the countries had also been on the agenda of the talks.

    Putin said that both the Russian and the Japanese government agencies would work out new agreements in investment, tax and labor spheres.

    "We also tasked the relevant ministries to work out a range of new agreements in the investment, tax and labor sectors," the president said.

    Syria Issues

    The Syrian crisis and the recent liberation of Aleppo were also discussed during the negotiations.

    During the press conference, the Russian president spoke about Turkey's role in the withdrawal of militants from Aleppo, as well as about negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on offering the rival sides of the crisis to continue peace talks on a new platform.

    "We agreed with President Erdogan that we would offer to the conflicting sides, we from our side to the Syrian government, while the Turkish president to the representatives of the armed opposition, to continue the process of peace talks on a peaceful platform. Kazakhstan capital of Astana could become such a platform," Putin told a press conference.

    He added that the talks on ceasefire in Syria, as well as the withdrawal of militants from Aleppo were taking place with Ankara's mediation.

    Putin also expressed hope that the Syrian army would manage to gain a foothold in Aleppo.

    "I very much hope that the Syrian army will be able to gain a foothold in Aleppo after successful combat actions, and that the civilians will be able to return to normal life," the Russian leader said.

    He added that the recent developments in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra were the result of lack of coordination between the US-led anti-terrorism coalition, the Syrian authorities and Russia during their operations and expressed hope that the anti-terror struggle would be carried out by joint efforts of many sides.

    "Everything that is happening in Palmyra is a result of uncoordinated actions of the so-called international coalition, the Syrian authorities and Russia… I have said many times that in order to be effective in the fight against terrorism, it is necessary to join forces," the president said.

    Future Visits

    During the press conference, Putin thanked the Japanese side for acceptance of the Russian delegation and invited Abe to visit Russia.

    "In conclusion, I would once again like to thank Japanese colleagues and Mr. Abe personally for the hospitality, the productive work and the constructive approach to all the issues discussed. I would like to invite the prime minister to visit Russia at a time convenient for him, meaning the Eastern Economic Forum or any other events which will be taking place in Russia," the president said.

    In return, the Japanese head of government accepted an invitation and promised to visit Russia in 2017.

    "As I've promised Vladimir, I will be ready to come to the Eastern Economic Forum next year and to review the implementation of the issues we have agreed on," Abe said following the talks with Putin.

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    Vladimir Putin, Shinzo Abe, Japan, Russia, Kuril Islands
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