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Russia says Abe did not respond to Putin's peace treaty proposal

MOSCOW -- Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said President Vladimir Putin's proposal to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Moscow and Tokyo sign a peace treaty this year without preconditions did not receive a reaction from Abe.

Peskov made the remark in an interview on a national television on Sept. 16, adding that Japanese government officials and diplomats did respond to Putin's proposal.

This description appears to run counter to an explanation given by Abe during a program on public broadcaster NHK that the two leaders exchanged opinions privately after Putin made the proposal during an open session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East. Abe said he conveyed to Putin that the principal of the Japanese government is to first solve the territorial dispute over Japan's Northern Territories, which were occupied by Soviet Union forces shortly after the end of World War II and are now controlled by Russia.

Peskov described Putin's idea as a proposal on a difficult issue, which Japan has to tackle diplomatically but which has implications for domestic politics. He predicted it would take time for the Japanese government to determine its position on the issue. "There are certain nuances in their approaches, but strategically, Abe and Putin confirmed their intention to work toward a peace treaty," said Peskov.

(Japanese original by Hitoshi Omae, Moscow Bureau)

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