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Abe, Putin to hold isle talks on G-20 sidelines

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Thursday with the aim of accelerating negotiations on the four Russian-held islands at the center of a bilateral territorial row.

Abe left for St. Petersburg on a government plane Wednesday to attend a two-day Group of 20 major and emerging economies summit set to kick off Thursday.

This will be the third summit between Abe and Putin. They last held talks in June on the sidelines of Group of Eight major countries summit in Britain.

At the upcoming meeting, Abe and Putin are expected to agree on the schedule for a visit to Japan by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and a meeting of the two nations’ defense ministers during Lavrov’s visit.

The two are also expected to confirm a policy of continued negotiations to conclude a bilateral peace treaty, following talks held in Moscow last month by sub-Cabinet-level foreign affairs officials from the two countries.

Abe hopes to gain momentum for the negotiations by strengthening Japan’s relationship with Russia in the security and economic fields, sources said.

At their talks, the Syria civil war is expected to be discussed, although Abe is unlikely to touch on the issue in detail with Putin, the sources said.

Abe told U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation Tuesday that Japan is closely watching whether Congress authorizes an American military strike against Syria.

The Japanese leader is considering holding talks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who canceled a planned visit to Japan in June due to anti-government demonstrations in her country. If talks between Abe and Rousseff materialize, they are likely to agree to resume negotiations on a potential nuclear deal, the sources said.

At the G-20 summit, Abe plans to explain the nation’s medium-term fiscal program and his economic policy mix, known as “Abenomics.”