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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was set Friday to hold a rare meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, marking a breakthrough in the Kremlin’s efforts to end Russia’s two-year isolation over Ukraine.

Abe was to meet with the political outcast in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. He has argued for engaging the Russian leader to further his goal of solving the prolonged World War II dispute over four Russia-held islands off Hokkaido.

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