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Russia: Japan's Prime Minister May Visit Russia This Year

Tokyo, 10 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said today he may be able to make an unofficial visit to Russia this year at the invitation of Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, on a three-day visit to Japan, conveyed the invitation when he met Hashimoto today. Itar-tass says in his personal message to Hashimoto Yeltsin noted it was important for the two countries to have summit talks once a year.

Hashimoto said he would notify Yeltsin whether he would accept his invitation when the two meet at the Denver summit of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries later this month.

Hashimoto also told Nemtsov that he wanted to "dynamically" develop bilateral ties into the next century, including signing of a peace treaty.

A long-standing dispute over four Russian-held Kuril islands has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty. Hashimoto denied last week he planned to visit Moscow this year on an official visit.