Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin discuss island dispute, North Korea

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The two leaders have met to discuss resolving a World War Two row over islands in the western Pacific. Putin also emphasized the need to avoid any actions that could inflame tensions with North Korea.

Speaking at a business conference in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, Abe addressed the dispute of the islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and as the Southern Kuriles in Russia.

“As the leader of Japan, I am firmly convinced of the correctness of Japanese position, while you, Vladimir, as the leader of Russia, are entirely confident of the correctness of the Russian position,” Abe said.

“Yet, if we continue like this, this very same discussion will continue for yet more decades to come. By leaving the situation like this, neither you nor I will be able to leave better possibilities to future generations,” he added.

The island chain was seized by Soviet troops at the end of the Second World War, souring Japanese- Russian relations for over seven decades. No formal treaty has been signed on the issue.

On Saturday, the Russian president said he was ready to take decisive steps to resolve the problem.

“The past should not be an obstacle to moving forward. In order to solve them we of course need a level of trust. It’s a tricky solution but we can achieve it,” he added.

A caricature by DW cartoonist Sergey Elkin shows Putin focusing more on Crimea, as his attention shifts from the Southern Kuriles. Shinzo Abe looks happy

Tensions with Pyongyang

At Saturday’s meeting, which was also attended by South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, Putin said his country favored reviving talks with North Korea. He urged Pyongyang to adhere to international nuclear deals, but said “any actions that would provoke further escalation [of tensions] are counterproductive.”

Earlier, Park Geun-hye had urged giving a “strong unified message” to North Korea so it would abandon its nuclear program.

“If North Korea abandons its nuclear program and chooses the path to openness, we, together with the international community, will be ready to actively support it,” he said.

Tensions in the Korean peninsula have spiraled since Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January. A series of missile tests followed, including one in June, where one of the Musudan rockets fired achieved a height of 1,000 kilometers and demonstrated a capacity to fly more than 3,000 kilometers.

Last week, Pyongyang launched a missile from a submarine, that travelled 500 kilometers and was caught on Japanese radar.

mg/sms (Reuters, AFP)
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