Russian President Boris Yeltsin will respond to Japan’s new proposal on resolving the islands dispute between Japan and Russia in mid-November, when Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi makes an official visit to Moscow, ministry officials said Tuesday.The message from Alexander Panov, the Russian ambassador to Japan, was relayed to Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, the officials said.Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto made the proposal to Yeltsin in April at an informal “no-necktie” summit in Kawana, Shizuoka Prefecture.Details of the new proposal have not been revealed, but it is believed to include a plan to allow Russia to maintain its effective control over the disputed islands off the coast of Hokkaido if Moscow decides to acknowledge Tokyo’s claim to sovereignty over them.The territorial row has kept Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty officially ending wartime hostilities, but Hashimoto and Yeltsin struck an agreement last November to promote efforts to conclude such a peace treaty by the end of 2000.Panov told Komura that a new, favorable atmosphere between the two countries has been seen, and it is hoped that Komura’s visit to Moscow from Friday to Sunday will help to strengthen that when he comes to lay the groundwork for Obuchi’s visit.Komura stressed the importance of accelerating bilateral efforts for the peace treaty.

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