Japan, Russia to fix Koizumi-Putin talks at G8 summit
Text of report in English by Japanese news agency Kyodo
Tokyo, 6 April: Japan and Russia agreed in sub-cabinet-level talks in Tokyo on Thursday [6 April] to arrange a summit meeting between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of Eight [G8] summit in St Petersburg in mid-July, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a bilateral dispute over a group of Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, the official said.
Japan and Russia have long been divided over the sovereignty of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the southern Kurils. The island row is a major sticking point preventing them from concluding a peace treaty.
The Japanese and Russian representatives also agreed to arrange meetings of Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov and Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov, on the sidelines of the G8 foreign ministerial meeting in late June, the official said.
They also agreed to start arranging the visits of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and the Russian defence minister to Japan, the official said.
Japan was represented in Thursday's meeting by Tsuneo Nishida, deputy foreign minister, and Russia by Aleksandr Alekseyev, deputy foreign minister who is also Russia's chief delegate to the multilateral nuclear negotiations to resolve North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
In a separate meeting, Alekseyev and Kenichiro Sasae, director-general of the Japanese ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau and Japan's chief delegate to the six-party talks, agreed to work towards resuming the stalled six-party talks at an early date, ministry officials said.