MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that his country has no plan to hand over four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands to Japan, according to a Russian national television program aired Saturday.
In an interview with Putin, a reporter, who claimed to have visited one of the disputed islands, said that children there were showing the Russian flag and asked the president whether those children would face the need to bring down the flag in the future.
Putin responded that there is no such plan.
The president apparently suggested that he will not make a compromise over the territorial dispute ahead of talks he is expected to hold with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on June 29 on the sidelines of the two-day Group of 20 summit in Osaka. pundits said. The summit kicks off in the city the day prior.
The islands at the center of the decades-old territorial dispute are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. They were seized by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II.
Asked to give an outlook on the fate of the disputed islands, Putin said there are large-scale projects planned for the development of the Russian Far East, including the islands, and that all of them are slated to be implemented.
He also said that Russia will develop airport infrastructure there.