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LDP’s Komura, Putin aide meet to pave way for Russian president’s visit

Kyodo

Masahiko Komura, vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has held talks with Sergey Naryshkin, a close aide to President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow to pave the way for the Russian leader’s Japan visit, which was planned for this fall but has been postponed.

In his meeting Friday with the lower house speaker of the Russian parliament, Komura explained Japan’s stance over the Ukraine crisis and said it regards Russia as “a friend,” although it has imposed sanctions on the country following its annexation of Crimea in March. The opening of the talks was open to the media.

Naryshkin expressed Russia’s “disappointment” at Japan’s sanctions, which the Kremlin believes were imposed “under U.S. pressure,” saying such steps impair bilateral ties. He called for Tokyo’s efforts to bring the two countries’ relations back to “constructive” ones.

Komura, a former foreign minister, said Japan’s sanctions reflect its principle of not accepting any attempt to change the status quo by force, as Russia has done in eastern Ukraine.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to meet with Putin on the fringes of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit this week in Beijing. Their summit will be held Monday, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted a presidential adviser as saying Friday.

The Abe administration has attached great importance to Putin’s planned visit as part of its efforts to advance negotiations over the ownership of four Russian-held, Japanese-claimed islands off Hokkaido that were seized by the Soviet Union following Japan’s surrender in World War II. The territorial dispute has prevented the two countries from concluding a formal postwar peace treaty.

Komura chairs the Japan-Russia Parliamentarians’ Friendship League and is visiting Moscow as head of a delegation for martial arts exchanges.