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Ivanov says Russia waiting for Japan's response.

TOKYO, Feb. 22 Kyodo

Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Monday Russia is waiting for Japan's response to a counterproposal made by Moscow over Tokyo's initial one for resolving a long-standing territorial row and signing a peace treaty by 2000. ''We expect the Japanese side to give its response when President (Boris) Yeltsin makes his official visit to Japan,'' Ivanov told a press conference at the Russian Embassy in Tokyo. According to a negotiation source, Ivanov ruled out Japan's proposal for solving the territorial dispute before signing the peace treaty when he met Sunday with Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura. ''It is not possible,'' the source quoted Ivanov as telling Komura during their four-hour talks. The Russian counterproposal proposal reportedly calls for using the peace treaty only to reaffirm commitments to resolving the territorial dispute while leaving its actual resolution to a separate pact. At the news conference, Ivanov said Russia has already conveyed its response to Tokyo's proposal when Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited Moscow last November. ''So we are now waiting for Japan's response,'' Ivanov said. ''The president is looking forward to his visit.'' Ivanov, who arrived here Saturday for a four-day visit, did not offer any date for Yeltsin's visit, which is expected this year. The two nations have refused to disclose the contents of the two proposals -- an original one made last April by then Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and a counterproposal by Yeltsin during Obuchi's visit. The Hashimoto proposal reportedly involves giving Moscow temporary administrative rights over the disputed islands after the two countries draw a demarcation line between Etorofu, the most northerly of the islands, and Russia's Uruppu Island -- effectively recognizing Japanese sovereignty over them. Ivanov said he and Komura reaffirmed the two nations continue ''constructive and frank'' talks in a bid to realize the peace treaty under the Moscow Declaration issued by Obuchi and Yeltsin last November. The declaration calls for accelerating negotiations under a 1997 agreement under which the two nations are striving to resolve the territorial dispute and sign a peace treaty by 2000. The dispute concerns the Russian-held islands of Etorufu, Kunashiri and Shikotan, and the Habomai group of islets, off Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido. The islands were seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II. Ivanov noted the two nations will proceed with negotiations for the year-2000 goals through two sub-cabinet committees -- one for negotiating border demarcation and the other for joint economic activities. Komura and Ivanov agreed to hold the second session of the committees April 1-2 in Tokyo. On joint economic activities, Ivanov expressed hope the two nations will decide on one or two projects as an initial test case at the next committee meeting.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Mar 1, 1999
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