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Kurile dispute eludes solution

The two sides signed 12 documents of cooperation covering fronts from energy to anti-terrorism

TOKYO: Japanese and Russian leaders on Monday failed to bridge the gap on the territorial disputes, but vowed to strengthen their cooperation in other fields including economy and energy.

Emerging from their two-hour meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin said they agreed to boost bilateral cooperation and enhance mutual trust.

On the long-standing row over the transfer of a cluster of islands, they failed to reach a breakthrough, only saying they agreed to find a resolution acceptable to both countries.

Mr. Putin said he had invited Mr. Koizumi to visit Russia next year.

Before the press conference, the two sides signed 12 documents of cooperation covering fronts from energy to anti-terrorism.

The transfer of sovereignty related to the four islands off Japan's northern Hokkaido prefecture has been the primary stumbling block in the bilateral relations.

Differing views

The islands fell under the control of former Soviet Union at the end of the World War II. Citing a 1993 joint declaration, Japan insists that the Russia should turn over all islands prior to concluding a peace treaty. Russia, however, sticks to a 1956 document with the peace treaty, which should come first and only two islands be returned.

Praise for ties

When asked if the discord would have negative impact on the economic cooperation, Mr. Koizumi just praised the economic relationship and expected the trade volume could breach $10 billions this year.

Mr. Putin, however, said there is influence, but stressed that efforts should be made to reduce the impact.

Mr. Koizumi also pressed for an early agreement on building an oil pipeline from Russia's oil-rich Siberia to its Pacific coastal port to quench Tokyo's demand.

Mr. Putin arrived in Tokyo on Monday to pay a three-day visit. — Xinhua

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