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Putin, Koizumi Pledge To Work On Island Dispute --> President Putin (Left) and Prime Minister Koizumi (file photo) (epa) 21 November 2005 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi agreed today to expand economic ties between the two countries while seeking a solution to a decades-old territorial dispute.

The two leaders spoke to reporters in Tokyo after two days of talks.

Putin said Russia would work to solve a dispute over four Pacific islands seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II. The dispute has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from signing a peace treaty.

Russia has so far declined Japanese demands to return the islands, known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.

Meanwhile, the two leaders agreed to work out the conditions for cooperating on an oil pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific Coast to deliver Siberian crude to Japan and other countries in the region.

"I'm sure the project will consolidate the energy infrastructure of the entire [Asia-Pacific] region and will give the national economies here new competitive properties," Putin said earlier today.

Overall, the Japanese press reported that the two sides adopted 12 documents concerning economic cooperation and technology issues.


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