Putin tells Shinzo Abe: "Let's sign peace deal this year"

Putin, Xi make pancakes together

"An idea has just come into my head", Mr Putin said, turning towards Mr Abe during a question and answer session at an economic forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

The two countries have not signed a peace treaty due to a territorial dispute over a group of islands off Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that Japan remains unchanged in its stance to sign a peace treaty with Russian Federation after resolving the issue of the four northern islands.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C, rear) attends an award ceremony for the first race of the SCF Far East Tall Ships Regatta 2018 with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon after the plenary session of the fourth Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, on September 12, 2018.

Russian and Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said that work on a future agreement would continue as usual, and a Japanese official made clear that Tokyo wants an agreement on possession of the islands before it will sign a peace treaty.

During the Russia-Japan summit Monday, Abe called for an end to a territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands, while Putin said there is a need to "take precautions" to find a solution, according to Japanese press reports.

Xi said: "China has always been and is still a participant in development projects in the eastern part of Russian Federation". In 1956, the two countries signed a common declaration on ending the state of war and restoring diplomatic and all other relations, however, a peace treaty has still not been reached.

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

Still, a former Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Georgy Kunadze, felt this could be political posturing from Putin. "Putin does not expect anything", Kunadze told Echo of Moscow radio station.

"Japan and Russian Federation - both President Putin and myself - share the same position and determination to solve our territorial disputes", he said. "This stance hasn't changed". They attended a roundtable meeting on regional cooperation and visited "The Far East Street" exhibition showcasing the rich local cultural exchanges between the two countries and investment opportunities in Russia's Far East regions.

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