#17 - JRL 7006
Japan hopes to deepen ties with Russia based on action plan
TOKYO, Jan. 6 (Kyodo) - Japan hopes to further strengthen bilateral ties with Russia this year based on an action plan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to release later this week, Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi said Monday.
''There is still much room to expand and promote bilateral relations,'' Takeuchi said at a news conference. He was referring to a long-standing territorial row over four disputed islands off Hokkaido that has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty since World War II ended.
''It is desirable to strengthen cooperative relations that are in line with the mutual benefit of Japan and Russia and we think that would also lead toward establishing the basis for negotiations to sign a peace treaty,'' Takeuchi said, adding the action plan would serve as a chart to deepen wide-ranging bilateral exchanges.
Koizumi and Putin are expected to release a six-item action plan after their summit Friday in Moscow. Koizumi is scheduled to visit Moscow from Thursday through Saturday and Khabarovsk on Sunday.
The action plan is expected to cover the need for reactivating bilateral political dialogue, making efforts to conclude a peace treaty, fostering cooperation in the international arena, strengthening economic cooperation and boosting human and cultural exchanges.
The disputed islands are Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan as well as the Habomai islet group, all off Hokkaido, Japan's main northern island. Long claimed by both Japan and Russia, the islands were seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II.