• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has decided to postpone his planned visit to Russia, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The government has determined that the trip this month could affect Japan’s alliance with the United States, which blames Russia over growing unrest in eastern Ukraine, officials said.

Government sources said earlier that Kishida was considering postponing the trip to June or later, while taking into account Washington’s ties with Moscow following the Ukrainian presidential election on May 25.

The ministry said the postponement was made by mutual consent with the Russian government and will include a business delegation that was to accompany Kishida to Russia, it said.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said Japan will coordinate with Russia about rescheduling the minister’s trip.

The official told reporters he does not believe the development will hamper a visit to Japan planned by Russian President Vladimir Putin because the two governments mutually agreed on the decision to postpone.

Japan hopes to use Putin’s visit to advance negotiations on a territorial dispute over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry made a similar announcement.

“The new date of the visit will be coordinated later,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass news agency.

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