• Kyodo

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Japan is making final arrangements for a key foreign policy adviser to visit Russia on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s summit with President Vladimir Putin in Japan next month, a government source said.

While in Russia, Shotaro Yachi, head of the National Security Council’s secretariat, is expected to meet senior Russian officials including Nikolai Patrushev, a Putin aide and secretary of the Security Council of Russia, to coordinate the agenda for the summit in Yamaguchi Prefecture, the source said Saturday.

Abe and Putin will meet in Abe’s home prefecture on Dec. 15.

The Russian leader and Abe also plan to hold talks on the fringes of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum later this month in Peru.

Yachi and Patrushev, who have previously held talks in Tokyo and Russia, are likely to discuss bilateral cooperation in the political and security arenas, as well as regional matters such as China and the Ukraine crisis, the source said.

Yachi’s trip comes as the Japanese and Russian governments are speeding up talks about economic cooperation as a prelude to resolving their decades-old territorial dispute off Hokkaido.

The row over the four Russian-held, Japan-claimed islands has prevented the two from signing a peace treaty to end World War II.

The islands, Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group, were seized by the former Soviet Union at the end of the war.

Japan hopes to use economic aid to make progress on the dispute. Abe presented an eight-point economic cooperation plan to Putin when they met in Sochi, Russia, in May. While Moscow is eager to boost economic ties, it appears wary about using the territorial issue as a trade-off, political analysts say.

Japan sent point man Hiroshige Seko, minister of economy, trade and industry, to Russia on Wednesday.

In Moscow on Saturday, Seko told a news conference, “We will create a good cycle in which boosting bilateral economic cooperation leads to political stability.”

“Substantiating economic cooperation creates a good environment for the two leaders to hold talks on concluding a peace treaty,” Seko said.

Plans are also under way for Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to visit Russia by early next month for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, according to the source.

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