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Russia: Primakov Expects No Change In Kurile Island Issue

Tokyo, 25 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said in Seoul today he does not expect Russia or Japan to renounce their current approaches toward the disputed South Kurile islands. But Primakov said that the issue should not block the development of stronger relations between Moscow and Tokyo.

Earlier today in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto proposed a new approach to improving relations, and said he is determined to strengthen ties with Russia. Tokyo's long-standing policy has been to link economic cooperation with Russia to the territorial dispute over the four islands. But yesterday, Hashimoto proposed joint development of energy resources in the Russian Far East as part of what he called a bew Japanese diplomatic approach.

Japan has not concluded a peace treaty with Russia since the end of World War II. Tokyo has cited the territorial dispute over the Kurile islands, which were seized by the former Soviet Union toward the end of the war.