Top diplomats from Japan, Russia to meet amid push to end Kuril dispute

Top diplomats from Japan, Russia to meet amid push to end Kuril dispute

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow today, potentially to finally

lavrov kono moscow

Photo: Reuters

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow today, potentially to finally put a formal end to World War II.

Discussions will focus on a long-standing territorial dispute between Russia and Japan over the four southernmost islands in the Kuril Islands archipelago. Moscow and Tokyo have yet to sign a post-war peace treaty—and are technically still at war—due to this dispute.

As Russia tries to reassert itself as a diplomatic kingpin in Southeast Asia, talks over the Kurils have accelerated since the end of last year. Indeed, last November, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Japan’s Shinzo Abe agreed to speed up the resolution process significantly. The leaders have since met five times, and Mr Putin even made an unexpected public offer to sign a peace treaty last September.

While a treaty is not expected to be announced today, a number of minor economic agreements over the islands suggest that the dispute may be approaching an end. Japan and Russia are important neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region. Strengthening political, economic and cultural relations is not only in the strategic interests of both countries, but could also contribute significantly to regional stability and prosperity.

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