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    Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono

    Japanese FM Declines to Comment on Peace Treaty Talks with Russia

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    TOKYO (Sputnik) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, in Moscow that the two nations still had a long way to go before the agreement could be signed.

    The Monday meeting is set to become the first round of Russian-Japanese consultations on a peace treaty. The Japanese Foreign Ministry, however, has declined to comment on the talks with Russia about the belated peace treaty.

    “We would like to refrain from commenting on the talks, including the issues that were raised,” the ministry told Sputnik.

    Last week, the Japanese Foreign Ministry voiced commitment to continue the talks, stressing that the peace agreement should be concluded after the resolution of the decades-long territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands.

    The fact that Japan and Russia have never signed a permanent peace treaty after the end of World War II has long been a stumbling block in Russia-Japan relations. The main issue standing in the way of a treaty is an agreement concerning a group of four islands that both countries claim — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, collectively referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan.

    READ MORE: Return to 1956 Declaration Doesn't Entail Transfer of Kurils to Japan – Kremlin

    Moscow and Tokyo signed a Joint Declaration in 1956 that provided for the restoration of bilateral relations and stipulated that the two would continue efforts to sign a permanent peace treaty and settle the island dispute. The Soviet Union pledged to consider handing over two islands to Japan.

    On November 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed at a meeting in Singapore to enhance talks on a peace treaty's conclusion based on the 1956 Soviet-Japanese joint declaration, the only document recognized by both countries.

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    'A Gain for US': Abe Says Russia-Japan Peace Treaty to Benefit Regional Security
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    treaty, peace, Sergei Lavrov, Taro Kono, Russia, Japan
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