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President Putin (file photo) Moscow, 15 November -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today said that Moscow may hand over two of the four disputed Kurile Islands to Japan if the two sides sign a peace treaty ending their technical state of war, dating back to World War II.

Putin was responding to remarks made yesterday by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that suggested Russia may be ready to make such a move.

Japan has long pushed Russia to return the islands, which the Soviet Union occupied in the closing days of World War II. The dispute has prevented the two nations from concluding a postwar peace treaty.

(RFE/RL, dpa, ITAR-TASS, AFP)
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