The following is the gist of a joint statement issued by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Russian President Vladimir Putin after a meeting in Irkutsk, eastern Siberia, on Sunday.

The two leaders agreed:

* To continue talks on a peace treaty based on past agreements, including the 1956 joint declaration signed by Japan and the Soviet Union.

* To confirm that the 1956 joint statement signed by Japan and the Soviet Union is a “basic legal document” serving as the “starting point” for the bilateral peace treaty process.

* To promote negotiations based on the 1993 Tokyo Declaration in order to sign a peace treaty after settling disputes over all four disputed territories.

* To boost negotiations to achieve a “solution mutually acceptable to both sides,” and that “a specific direction” for peace treaty negotiations should be decided at an early date.

* To continue cooperation on projects in the four territories.

* To confirm the importance of updating documents relating to the history of the territorial dispute and raising public awareness of the peace treaty process, as was agreed by Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov on Jan. 16.

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