MOSCOW: The Kremlin warned on Monday that neither Russia nor Japan would abandon their national interests in peace talks to resolve a decades-old territorial dispute and said everyone should be realistic about the difficulty of getting a breakthrough.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making a push to end a dispute over islands captured by Soviet troops in the last days of World War Two that has prevented the countries signing a peace treaty.
Ahead of talks in Moscow between Abe and President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said negotiations to resolve the dispute were in their early phases and that there was still a lot of work to be done.
Last year, Abe and Putin agreed that negotiations should be based on a 1956 joint declaration that refers to the transfer of two of the four islands to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty. Abe entered 2019 describing the year as a potential turning point in the dispute, which his father, former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, had also endeavored to end.
Japan's official position is that the islands -- home to rich fishing grounds are an inherent part of its territory and are under illegal occupation. Russia insists that it owns the isles, which have been inhabited by its own citizens for generations.