• Kyodo

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Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama and his Russian counterpart will hold working-level consultations Aug. 19 in Moscow over a long-running territorial dispute, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Sugiyama’s meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov is expected to hash out the two countries’ sovereignty claims over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido seized by the Soviets in the dying days of the war, according to sources close to Russo-Japanese ties.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at an April summit in Moscow to accelerate stalled negotiations on the issue in a bid to resolve a dispute that has prevented the two countries from signing a treaty to formally end World War II hostilities.

Tokyo and Moscow plan to arrange a one-on-one meeting between Abe and Putin on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sept. 5 and 6, the sources said.

Later in the fall, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to visit Japan for further consultations, increasing the pace of bilateral discussions on the matter.

The territories — Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan islands and the Habomai islet group — were seized after Japan’s surrender.

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