Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin on Monday reaffirmed that President Boris Yeltsin will reply to a proposal by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to resolve a territorial dispute in the autumn, when Hashimoto visits Moscow, according to Foreign Ministry officials.

Karasin made the remark at a vice ministerial meeting in Tokyo with Deputy Foreign Minister Minoru Tanba aimed at negotiating a bilateral peace treaty.

Hashimoto made the proposal concerning the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido at an informal summit with Yeltsin in April in Kawana, Shizuoka Prefecture. Details of the proposal have not been unveiled, but earlier reports suggested Hashimoto proposed giving Moscow temporary administrative rights over the islands after the two countries agree to draw a temporary boundary north of them.

The row over Etorofu, Kunashiti and Shikotan islands and the Habomai group of islets, which were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty.

Hashimoto and Yeltsin saw a breakthrough in bilateral relations by agreeing last November at an informal summit in Krasnoyarsk, eastern Siberia, to promote efforts to conclude a peace treaty by the end of 2000.

At Monday’s meeting, Tanba and Karasin exchanged views on economic and political details that may be included in the peace treaty, but the territorial issue was not discussed, the officials said.

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