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Japanese Premier: Better Relations With Moscow Possible --> Prime Minister Koizumi (R) with President Putin in Moscow last year (epa) 14 November 2005 -- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said the failure of Japan and Russia to reach a settlement over four disputed Pacific Ocean islands does not need to hamper the development of relations between the two countries.

Koizumi made the comment in an interview shown on 13 November on Russia's RTR television, one week before a scheduled official visit to Tokyo by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Koizumi said he hopes Russia and Japan will be able to settle the territorial dispute and sign a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities. But he said he believed it is possible to develop political and economic ties even without an agreement.

The Soviet Army seized the four islands - known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles and by Japan as the Northern Territories -- near the end of World War II.


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