TOKYO, Sept 2 Vladimir Putin has said Russia is
willing to compromise on a territorial dispute that has
bedevilled relations with Japan for eight decades, but said this
would not include the trade or sale of the islands held by
Moscow and claimed by Tokyo.
"We're not talking about some exchange or some sale," the
Russian president told Bloomberg News in an interview conducted
on Thursday and posted on the news agency's website. "We are
talking about finding a solution where neither of the parties
would feel defeated or a loser."
Putin is to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on
Friday on the sidelines of a business conference in Vladivostok
to discuss, among other things, closer economic cooperation in
such areas as energy and technology.
Abe hopes the lure of deeper economic ties with Russia will
strengthen strategic relations in the face of a rising China,
but sceptics question whether the approach will generate a
breakthrough on the dispute over the small islands.
The row over Moscow's seizure of the territory off Hokkaido
- called the Northern Territories by Japan and Southern Kuriles
by Russia - in the final days of World War Two has prevented the
two countries from ever signing a treaty formalising the end of
"We don't trade in territories, although the problem of a
peace treaty with Japan is a key one," Putin said through an
interpreter. "And we would very much like to find a solution to
this problem with our Japanese friends."
(Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Paul Tait)