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Russia's Putin and Japan's PM Abe to discuss island dispute and energy

Prime Minister Abe meets President Putin for the first top-level visit in a decade with the hope of breaking the stalemate of a territorial dispute dating back to World War II.

Putin and abe handshakeEnlarge
Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting in Moscow on April 29, 2013. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday for the nations' first top-level diplomatic visit in a decade.

The two leaders will discuss a territorial dispute dating back to World War II, and focus on new energy deals, as Japan attempts to procure non-nuclear energy supplies after the Fukushima plant disaster. 

The leaders' one-on-one talks at the Kremlin will be followed by a meeting between their respective business delegations and a joint news conference.

"I will work on boosting Japan-Russia relations so that this visit will mark a restart in stalled negotiations over a peace treaty," Abe said before flying to Moscow, adding that he would like "to build a trusted personal relationship with President Putin."

Russia and Japan never signed a formal World War II peace treaty, leading in-part to a dispute over four islands seized by Soviet forces during the war.

In 2010, former Russian President and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev caused a row between the two nations when he visited the islands. Tokyo called the visit an "unforgivable outrage."

It's thought Russia will focus on building economic relations with Japan, and will unlikely relinquish its hold on the islands.

"The Russian side proceeds from the position that dialogue (on a peace treaty) should be held in a calm, respectful atmosphere in parallel with the development of the entire range of Russo-Japanese relations," Putin's press service said.

A 120-person business delegation accompanies Abe to Moscow. Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told Reuters that a resolution of the territorial dispute would benefit the two nations' economic ties.

"Through forming strong personal ties between the leaders, we want to make Russia feel that by quickly solving the Northern Territories issue, Japan can contribute to the development of Russia and Siberia in particular," Seko said. 

The last Japanese leader to visit Moscow was Junichiro Koizumi, who made the trip in 2003.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/130429/russias-putin-and-japans-pm-abe-discuss-island-dispute-and-energ