• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida left Thursday for a three-day visit to Russia to make final preparations for an upcoming summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Japan, the Foreign Ministry said the same day.

Kishida will meet Putin on Friday in St. Petersburg, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday in Moscow, with a decades-old territorial dispute over Russian-held, Japanese-claimed islands on the agenda, the ministry said.

The row over the islands has prevented the two countries from concluding a post-World War II peace treaty.

Abe hopes to make progress on resolving that territorial dispute when he meets Putin on Dec. 15 in Abe’s home prefecture of Yamaguchi. The two leaders will also meet in Tokyo the following day to discuss bilateral economic cooperation and expanding human exchanges.

It remains unclear whether Kishida can narrow the differences between Japan and Russia over the islands dispute during his talks with Putin and Lavrov. Japan says that the islands are its inherent territory, while Russia says it legitimately took them as the result of World War II.

Kishida is also likely to discuss economic cooperation with Lavrov based on an eight-point cooperation plan that Abe proposed to Putin in May in an effort to move the territorial row forward.

The plan includes Japan support for developing the medical and energy sectors in Russia and constructing an export base in the Russian Far East, a region Putin is eager to develop.

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