Japan, Russia to accelerate territorial talks: statement

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Monday to accelerate the stalled territorial talks that have prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty following World War II.

The leaders "will respectively instruct their foreign ministries to accelerate negotiations to work out a solution acceptable to both countries over the peace treaty issue," they said in a joint statement released after the meeting at the Kremlin.

Abe and Putin also agreed to enhance the bilateral economic partnership, with Japan aiming to secure Russian energy resources at cheaper costs, at a time when it is struggling to cover the loss of nuclear energy following the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

They acknowledged that a situation in which no peace treaty has been signed for the past 67 years is "abnormal." The two governments will specifically increase their contacts, including reciprocal visits by the leaders and their foreign ministers.

The countries will also set up a framework for dialogues between the foreign and defense ministers to discuss issues such as enhanced communication between security officials and cooperation in devising counterterrorism and antipiracy measures. This is the first such arrangement for Russia with an Asian country.

On the economic front, the leaders agreed to hold talks involving both government and private officials on promoting cooperation in developing Russia's resource-rich Far East region. The countries "will expand energy cooperation in the areas of oil and gas, under mutually beneficial conditions, including the provision of energy at competitive prices," the statement said.