Putin: it's time to stop "historical ping-pong" about fate of South Kurils

Russian President Vladimir Putin urges to stop "historical ping-pong" about the fate of the Kuril islands at a press conference after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

"It would be naive to believe that we can solve this (territorial dispute over the South Kuril Islands) overnight, but it is necessary to search for a solution that would meet the strategic interests of Russia and Japan and that would be accepted by people of both countries," TASS cited him as saying.

The Russian leader recalled that the absence of a peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo is "an anachronism of the past."

Putin said he hopes joint business activity on Kuril Islands will foster peace treaty between Russia and Japan.

Putin has proposed free border movement of Sakhalin Region and Japan’s Hokkaido Island residents. Putin said the sides discussed the issue of allowing visa-free visits for the Japanese citizens, who used to be the citizens of the South Kuril Islands, to the tombs of their ancestors.

Abe, in turn, has underlined the need for a new approach for the future solution to the peace treaty issue. "I would like to do so that those who lived in the Islands earlier and those who live in the Islands now could develop ties and cooperation based on trust and do so that they could live together and work and think about the future of these Islands," Abe said.

"That’s why we spoke about how to make these Islands a zone of co-residence and joint prosperity. This is my sincere wish and I informed the president of Russia about this," he said.

"We have agreed that the former residents of the South Kuril Islands will be able to freely visit the places where they used to live. We also agreed on holding talks immediately in order to provide them access to the graves of their relatives," Abe added.

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