• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Thursday she is contemplating a visit to Russia sometime this fall or by the end of the year.

“I would certainly like to go (to Russia). The timing would be some time that is agreeable to both countries,” Kawaguchi told reporters.

Kawaguchi, in Whistler for a Group of Eight meeting, met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Wednesday and the two agreed to activate political dialogue between the two countries and try to jump-start peace treaty negotiations.

Ivanov renewed his invitation to Kawaguchi to visit Russia and later told Russian reporters that she would visit Moscow in late fall.

“I believe we were able to hold very good talks yesterday,” Kawaguchi said of her meeting with Ivanov on Wednesday. “We had been intending to propose activating political dialogue, but he proposed it first. So we were thinking the same thing and we were able to reinforce our thoughts.”

Japanese officials reported some headway Wednesday in the stalled bilateral peace treaty negotiations, saying Kawaguchi and Ivanov agreed in principle to hold vice ministerial talks in Tokyo to prepare for a visit to Russia, first by Kawaguchi and subsequently by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, later this year.

Kawaguchi emphasized the importance of not losing the momentum in the talks and agreed with Ivanov to schedule both the vice foreign ministerial talks and her visit to Russia through diplomatic channels, Japanese officials said.

Kawaguchi and Ivanov confirmed their countries’ basic stance to move forward the postwar peace treaty talks and to promote economic and cultural cooperation as well as collaboration in the international scene.

The talks have been held up by the territorial row over the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido claimed by Japan.

The Soviet Union occupied the islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu and Shikotan and the Habomai islets at the end of World War II.

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