Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sept. 12 with an abrupt proposal to conclude a post-World War II peace treaty between the countries “without any preconditions” by the end of the year.
The proposal would effectively mean shelving bilateral negotiations over the sovereignty of Russia-held, Japan-claimed islands, contrary to Tokyo’s position that a peace treaty should come after the settlement of the territorial issue.
“An idea has just come to my mind,” Putin said at a regional economic forum that the two leaders attended in the Russian Far East port city of Vladivostok. “Let’s conclude a peace treaty before the end of this year, without any preconditions.”
During a subsequent question-and-answer session, Putin said he wanted to clinch the deal first and then continue to discuss the territorial issue with Abe as “friends.”
Putin made the remarks after a speech by Abe urging Putin to bring an end to debate over the peace deal, which drew applause from the audience. (Kyodo)