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Japan prime minister to visit Russia, talk about 'historical' issues: Putin

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia -- Japan's prime minister is to visit Russia, President Vladimir Putin said Sunday after a meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Vladivostok, adding that “historical” issues will be on the agenda.

Russia and Japan have a longstanding dispute over the Kuril Islands, which Soviet forces seized in the last days of World War II and Tokyo refers to as the Northern Territories.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev provoked fury in Japan when he visited the islands earlier this year, adding to a hugely controversial visit he made while serving as president in November 2010.

The issue is a key stumbling block to the two countries signing a peace treaty to bring a formal end to the war.

“We would like to solve all outstanding problems which have historical roots,” Putin told reporters.

“We agreed that (the Japanese) prime minister will pay an official visit to Russia, when we will be able to discuss all of these problems in detail, not on the sidelines of the summit,” Putin said, speaking through a translator.

Japan is expected to hold a general election this autumn, with current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's flailing Democratic Party of Japan facing defeat.

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