Putin tells Abe he hopes for peace treaty this year

China takes center stage at opening of Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok

Zolotoi Rog Bay in Vladivostok Russia

"However, our position that the Northern Territories issue is resolved before any peace treaty remains unchanged". "We have been negotiating for 70 years", Mr Putin said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia September 12, 2018.

"It seems to me that this would facilitate the solution of all problems which we have not been able to solve during the past 70 years".

FILE PHOTO: Japan Coast Guard vessel PS08 Kariba sails off Cape Nosappu, easternmost point in Japan, in Nemuro on Hokkaido island, as part of a group of islands known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russian Federation can be seen in the background April 14, 2017.

Xi's Vladivostok trip is pragmatic and efficient, and conducive to promoting benign interactions between major countries, he said, adding that it was also an important move in the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

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He said his idea was that the two sides sign a treaty first, and then work through the issues on which they are in dispute afterwards.

Vostok-2018 is taking place at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russian Federation, and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has said it will monitor the exercise closely, as will the United States which has a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.Russia's Ministry of Defence broadcast images on Tuesday of columns of tanks, armoured vehicles and warships on the move, and combat helicopters and fighter aircraft taking off.

"Both countries are trying to signal: If the United States pushes too far, we are going to move closer to each other", Alexander Gabuev, chairman of the Russian Federation in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank, told the Washington Post.

During the talks in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin and Abe discussed the idea of building a railway bridge from Sakhalin to mainland Russian Federation, which could later be extended to the Kuril Islands and Japan.

Some diplomats said Putin's proposal was a non-starter.

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"This is called trolling".

"This stance hasn't changed", he added. "Putin does not expect anything", Kunadze told Echo of Moscow radio station.

He also suggested that Abe would never accept a deal that would be "political suicide". The two leaders have launched various economic projects on the islands in areas such as the farming of fish and shellfish, wind-generated energy, and tourism.

In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told Russian news agencies that the announcement would not require any changes to the current format of negotiations.

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