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Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko confirmed Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Japan in late August, a Foreign Ministry official said.

The meeting between Mori and Khristenko was one of several that took place between Japanese government leaders and foreign dignitaries currently in Japan to attend today’s official funeral for the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.

Khristenko told Mori that since the two sides have just about agreed on the timing of the bilateral summit, Russia may soon propose specific dates, the official said.

During Mori’s visit to Russia in April, the two leaders agreed that the Russian president would visit Japan in late August.

For his part, Mori expressed Tokyo’s intention to discuss at the summit various issues, including the long-standing territorial dispute over Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, the official said.

Under a series of recent accords, Japan and Russia have pledged to conclude a peace treaty by the end of this year after resolving the territorial issue.

In a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, Khristenko indicated that the issue of reducing Russia’s external debt would be an important one for Moscow going into the Group of Eight summit to be held in Okinawa in July.

The Russian deputy prime minister also proposed that the bilateral trade and economic committee meet again ahead of Putin’s visit to Japan, the official said.

Although Japan and Russia did not reach agreement on the proposal, the two sides did agree to discuss the matter in an effort to fully prepare for Putin’s visit, the official added.

Regarding the territorial row, Khristenko told Kono that the two sides should seek solutions that would not harm the interests of either side, the official said.

Mori also held a series of talks with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah, Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen and Mongolian Prime Minister Rinchinnyamin Amarjargal.

During talks with Qian, Mori said Japan has concerns about the unprecedented inter-Korean summit, to be held next week in Pyongyang, seeking Chinese support for the talks, another Foreign Ministry official said.

Qian said China supports dialogue between the two Koreas, although it is difficult to predict the results of the meeting, the official said.

During talks with Ben-Eliezer, Mori expressed Japan’s intention to address the issue of promoting peace in the Middle East at the Okinawa G8 summit, another ministry official said.

In a separate meeting, Crown Prince Hamzah told Mori that Jordan is grateful for the role Japan has played in promoting peace in the Middle East, the official said.

In addition to meeting with Khristenko, Kono also held talks with Qian, Ben-Eliezer, Bulgarian Vice President Todor Kavaldjiev, Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon, Zambian Foreign Minister Sipakeli Walubita, Madagascan Foreign Minister Lila Ratsifandrihamanana, Nepalese Foreign Minister Chakra Prasad Bastola and Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes.

Mori asks for help

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Wednesday issued a public statement calling for cooperation in today’s official funeral for the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.

The funeral, organized jointly by the Cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party, is to be held at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo’s Kudan district from 2 p.m.

In the message, Mori praised Obuchi, saying that he greatly contributed to the recovery of Japan’s ailing economy through the implementation of key policies.

“To express condolences, we will offer a silent prayer for him at 2:10 p.m. I ask for people’s cooperation from every viewpoint,” Mori said in the message.

The prime minister added that condolence messages from the public will be accepted at the funeral site for about one hour from around 4:40 p.m.