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Russia: Yeltsin Arrives In Siberia Before Summit

Krasnoyarsk, Russia; 31 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin arrived in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk today for a weekend meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

Yeltsin said after his arrival that Hashimoto had proposed an informal meeting of the kind the Kremlin leader has enjoyed with other leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers.

Yeltsin is to hold informal talks with Hashimoto on Saturday and Sunday in what has been called the "sauna summit" because they will go to a Russian steam bath or "banya".

They are expected to discuss the territorial dispute over the four Kuril islands held by Russia since 1945 and the possible construction of a pipeline to carry natural gas from Siberia to Japan via Mongolia and China.

Interfax quotes Russian naval chief-of-staff Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov as saying plans for joint naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean will also be on the summit agenda. He says the first maneuvers may take place next year. Kuroyedov says such exercises will be aimed at improving peacekeeping operations, and will include practice for escorting humanitarian aid during sea and air-sea rescue missions.

The summit talks will be held at the "Sosna" government residence, some 10 kilometers outside Krasnoyarsk.

Earlier today at a meeting in Tokyo with the chairman of the upper house of Russia's parliament, Yegor Stroeyev, Hashimoto urged Russia to resolve the long-standing dispute over the Kuril islands.