Putin proposes peace treaty conclusion with Japan by year-end

China takes center stage at opening of Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted China's Xi Jinping in Vladivostok - as well as the Japanese and South Korean leaders - at the three-day Eastern Economic Forum.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has treated Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russian pancakes in a show of warm personal ties between the two leaders.

In the final days of that conflagration, Soviet forces stormed into Japanese-occupied Manchuria and North Korea at the end of World War II, seizing a number of islands north of Hokkaido.

The Eastern Economic Forum is an global forum held each year since 2015 to encourage foreign investment in the Russian Far East.

Putin positioned his proposal as a spontaneous response to Abe's remarks.

Both Moscow and Tokyo claim sovereignty over the islands, known in Russian Federation as the Kurile islands and in Japan as the Northern Territories.

A treaty without preconditions would leave Russian Federation in control of the disputed islands, which Russian Federation calls the Southern Kuriles and Japan calls the Northern Territories.

Both Abe and Putin say they want a solution to the dispute. In September, 1951, the Soviet Union refused to sign the Peace Treaty of San Francisco with Japan.

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It kept the two countries from signing a peace accord. "Okay", Mr Putin said, before proposing they sign a peace treaty.

"We have been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years".

Upon returning to power in 2012, Abe took a firm position on Japan's claims to the disputed island chain, aggravating tensions with Beijing.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a treaty with Russian Federation would be signed "after resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands", referring to the disputed territory. "This stance hasn't changed".

Shinzo Abe confirmed Wednesday his plans to visit China this year in what would be the first trip to the country by a Japanese prime minister since 2011, the latest sign of warmer ties between the two rivals.

Mr Putin said security in the region was a key issue and that Russian Federation was concerned by a move to establish a United States missile defence system there. "Putin does not expect anything", Georgy Kunadze, a former Russian deputy foreign minister, told AFP news agency, adding that Abe would never accept a deal that would be political suicide for him.

Abe added that they had agreed a "road map" to realise the economic projects on the islands.

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