Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko will pay an official visit to Japan from July 12 to 14 to hold talks with Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi, Foreign Ministry officials said Tuesday.

The visit will mark the first to Japan by a Russian prime minister, the officials said. Obuchi said the visit will deepen friendly bilateral relations.

The trip is also considered important to setting the stage for Hashimoto’s official trip to Moscow in the fall. Kiriyenko will have an audience with the Emperor and Empress, and will have meetings with Japanese business leaders, the officials said.

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