Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s visit to Russia to hold talks with President Boris Yeltsin will take place from Nov. 11 to 13, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Wednesday.
His visit was postponed one day from the original schedule due to Yeltsin’s health problems and medical treatment. During his stay in Russia, Obuchi will remain in Moscow and will not make a planned visit to St. Petersburg, the top government spokesman said. “The problem is not the number nor length of meetings between the two leaders, but it is how we can thrash out the issues,” Nonaka said, explaining the reason for the shortened visit.
The two leaders are expected to hold talks Nov. 12 with the aim of resolving in the near future the long-standing dispute between the two nations over Russian-held islands off Hokkaido. The two countries have agreed to do their utmost to conclude a peace treaty by 2000.
Yeltsin is expected to respond to a Japanese proposal to settle the dispute during Obuchi’s visit, which will be the first official visit by a Japanese prime minister in 25 years. The last was made by the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. During an April meeting in Japan between Yeltsin and then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Hashimoto put forward the proposal on settling the territorial dispute.
Although neither side has made the proposal public, reports have suggested that it involves giving Moscow temporary administrative rights over the islands after the two countries agree to draw a demarcation line between Etorofu, the northernmost of the islands in question, and Russia’s Uruppu Island.
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