'Naive' to expect quick settling of island dispute with Japan: Putin

Putin, Xi make pancakes together

The two countries are in dispute over the four southernmost islands in the Kuril chain, known in Japan as the Northern Territories, which the Soviet Union occupied at the end of World War II but are claimed by Japan.

Abe praised his meeting with Xi, saying they held "highly significant talks regarding Japan-China relations and the various issues that we face together".

"I and President Putin share the view that it is an abnormal situation that Japan and Russian Federation have not concluded a peace treaty although more than 70 years have passed since the end of the war", Abe said.

It has kept the two countries from signing a peace accord that would formally end their wartime hostilities.

Relations between China and Japan soured in 2012 over a territorial dispute over several tiny islands in the East China Sea.

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The Russian president said the two countries want to flesh out key areas of cooperation, such as gas pipelines and rail connections via North Korea - long-debated projects which do not, as yet, appear politically feasible - as well as initiatives in shipbuilding, agriculture and power generation.

Some diplomats and analysts have taken Putin's proposal with a grain of salt.

Putin said the conclusion of such a deal would create a better atmosphere and allow Russian Federation and Japan to "continue to solve all outstanding issues like friends".

"Shinzo said let's change approaches".

"We've been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years".

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As Donald Trump continues to up the ante on a trade war, with the USA president recently threatening to place tariffs on all Chinese exports to the United States, Beijing is moving to further solidify its already-close partnership with Russian Federation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for a way forward in the dispute, with the two leaders holding numerous meetings and reportedly getting as close to solving the row as they have ever been.

"This is called trolling".

Establishing its sovereignty over the islands is the crucial issue for Japan, so it would be unlikely to sign a deal without first receiving some assurances from the Kremlin over the fate of the islands.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a treaty with Russian Federation would be signed "after resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands", referring to the disputed territory. Abe smiled at the suggestion.

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Abe has proposed making the islands a joint economic zone, which could lead to a settlement.

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