• Kyodo

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Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Mizuho Bank and other banks are making final arrangements to jointly extend some ¥95 billion ($831 million) in loans to Russia’s state-run gas firm Gazprom, sources close to the matter said Monday.

A contract is expected to be concluded during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan on Dec. 15 and 16 to hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the sources said.

The move comes as Japan works out details of an eight-point blueprint Abe presented to Putin earlier this year to forge closer economic ties. Abe hopes to make progress in the decades-old territorial dispute over Russian-held, Japanese-claimed islands off Hokkaido.

Major Japanese banks have so far been cautious about providing loans to Russia, citing such reasons as the United States and Europe imposing economic sanctions on Moscow in reaction to its annexation in 2014 of the Crimea region in eastern Ukraine.

In addition to Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho, JPMorgan Chase & Co. of the United States is likely to join the co-financing program, the sources said.

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