Leaders of Russia and Japan to meet

Medvedev and Kan to hold talks in Japanese city amid tensions over territorial dispute.

    Medvedev, left, is among dozens of heads of state currently attending the G20 summit in Seoul [AFP]

    The Russian president is set to meet Naoto Kan, Japan's prime minister, on the sidelines of a regional summit in the Japanese city of Yokohama amid a dispute between the two nations over territory.

    Dmitry Medvedev's spokesperson, Natalia Timakova, confirmed the meeting on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Seoul, the South Korean capital, on Friday.

    Timakova said Russia's position on a group of Pacific islands that it claims remains unchanged.

    "The timing [of the talks] is still being agreed. They will discuss the Russian-Japanese relationship," she said.

    "During such meetings Russia's position remains traditionally unchanged."

    Medvedev is due to travel to Yokohama this week to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum following the G20 summit that ends on Friday.

    The countries both claim the four islands that Russia calls the Southern Kuriles and Japan has named the Northern Territories.

    Medvedev upset Japan when he visited the islands for four hours on November 1.

    It was the first trip by a Russian leader to the islands, that run northeast from Japan's main northern island of Hokkaido to Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

    The Soviet Union occupied the islands at the end of the second world war. The subsequent disagreement their ownership has prevented the signing of a post-war peace treaty between the pair.

    The visit also halted the signing of an economic co-operation deal between the two countries that would have boosted trade and investment.

    "The [Russian] president's move was one that trampled on the feelings of the Japanese people," Akihiro Ohata, the Japanese trade minister, said in parliament.

    Russia's foreign ministry responded that Japan's claim to the islands was a "dead-end".

    The islands are close to oil and gas production regions of Russia.

    Most people there make a living from fishing and Japan, a major fish consumer, would gain rich fishing grounds.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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