Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in a telephone conversation Wednesday with former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, underlined the importance of holding a bilateral summit in Japan but did not specify a date for any meeting, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Yeltsin and Hashimoto, who is visiting Moscow, had “cordial discussions” on their bilateral concerns, which include a long-standing territorial dispute over Russian-held islands off Hokkaido and efforts to conclude a peace treaty by the end of 2000, the official said.

Although Tokyo had been hoping that Yeltsin would visit Japan and by the end of this year and advance stalled demarcation and peace-treaty negotiations, Moscow has been saying that Russia’s internal political turmoil and Yeltsin’s health problems have been delaying the visit.

Hashimoto, a top foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, arrived in Moscow on Monday, ostensibly to observe a kendo championship. He is scheduled to return to Japan today.

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