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Japan's PM discusses G8, visas, peace deal in Russia

 Japan's prime minister met with Russia's president and president-elect on Saturday for discussions ranging from a peace agreement to the G8 summit and simplifying the visa system.

Yaduo Fukuda, on a visit to Moscow to strengthen ties with Russia's leadership, first met with outgoing President Vladimir Putin, and later with president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, set to take office on May 7.

Putin, hosting talks at the presidential residence near Moscow, told the premier that relations between the countries have seen a "qualitative change" in the past two to three years, and that new contacts on various levels have been established.

On the issue of a peace treaty, the president said: "We are continuing dialogue on a peace agreement and are creating the right conditions for progress along this route."

A dispute over the South Kuril Islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories, which were annexed by the Soviet Union after World War II, has prevented the two countries from signing a peace deal.

However, Kremlin spokesman Alexei Gromov said after the talks that the territorial issue was not discussed in detail, and that there have been no changes in the sides' positions on the issue.

Gromov said the leaders both spoke in favor of simplifying the system of visa travel between the countries, and agreed to "actively develop bilateral youth, student and scientist exchanges."

Fukuda later met with Medvedev at Meiendorf Castle. Before the talks, the premier told reporters that he saw the meeting as "a good chance to get strong personal relations up and running."

The two greeted each other in front of reporters before beginning private talks.

Medvedev told Fukuda: "I am sure we will be able to continue the discussions already begun [with Putin earlier in the day] both on bilateral relations and on issues on the international agenda, in particular the Group of Eight summit in Hokkiado."

The Japanese premier also said he hoped for detailed discussions on the agenda, in particular climate change issues.

Tokyo will be pushing for a climate change agreement to involve the United States and China, the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters, which have refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

RIA Novosti

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