Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian Lawmaker Says No Talks Under Way To Hand Kuriles To Japan

An abandoned Japanese ship rusts on the beach of Russia's Iturup Island in the remote southern Kuriles chain.

Russia will never give the disputed Kurile Islands to Japan and no talks are under way for a possible handover, the head of Russia's upper chamber of parliament said.

"Russia's sovereignty over the islands is certified by a certain international document. Russia cannot just give up that sovereignty," Valentina Matviyenko said as she visited Tokyo on November 1.

"There is no discussion going on at all on things like the handover of the islands," she said.

Her remarks suggest Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made little headway in his efforts to resolve the decades-old territorial dispute with Moscow.

The western Pacific island chain was seized by Soviet troops at the end of the World War II, but Japan still claims the islands, which it calls the Northern Territories. The unresolved dispute has prevented the two nations from ever signing a peace treaty.

Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about trying to end the dispute in recent meetings, with Abe holding out the incentive of greater Japanese investment in Russia's underdeveloped Far East.

But Matviyenko, a close ally of Putin, said any joint economic activities on the islands will need to stay within the framework of Russian law and sovereignty.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, and TASS