Putin wants Russia, Japan to sign historic peace treaty 'without any preconditions'

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New Delhi:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called upon Russia and Japan to sign a peace treaty this year and end the World War II hostilities "without any preconditions", saying that the territorial dispute has led to decades of deadlock.

However, a Japanese Government spokesman said, before signing a peace deal, the two countries should first resolve the dispute.

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The Russia-Japan dispute centres on four islands in the strategically-located Kuril chain. The region was occupied by Soviet Union at the end of war in 1945, but is claimed by Japan.

"We have been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years. We've been holding talks for 70 years," Putin said at an economic forum in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were also present at the event.

"Shinzo said: 'let's change our approaches.' Let's! Let's conclude a peace agreement, not now but by year's end without any preconditions," Putin said, prompting the audience to break into applause.

(With inputs from AFP)

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