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FOCUS: New Japan-Russia Framework Set, But Talks Seen Tough

FOCUS: New Japan-Russia Framework Set, But Talks Seen Tough

   Buenos Aires, Dec. 1 (Jiji Press)--A new framework between Japan and Russia has been set for negotiations on their decades-old territorial row and a peace treaty, with a critical point in the talks seen coming sometime in the first half of next year.
   But the talks are expected to be tough as the two sides remain wide apart over the territorial dispute concerning four Russian-controlled northwestern Pacific islands, informed sources said, also noting that the course of the negotiations will likely be influenced by public opinions in both countries and moves by the United States.
   Under the new framework, agreed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their meeting in Buenos Aires on Saturday, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and his Russian counterpart, Igor Morgulov, will mainly engage in the negotiations, while the overall framework is led by the two nations' foreign ministers--Taro Kono of Japan and Sergei Lavrov of Russia.
   Mori and Morgulov have been appointed special representatives of Abe and Putin, respectively.
   At their previous meeting, held in Singapore in mid-November, Abe and Putin agreed to accelerate the negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration, which stipulated that two of the four islands, the Habomais and Shikotan, as they are called in Japan, be handed over to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty.

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