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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 November 2005, 05:36 GMT
Putin visits Japan to boost ties
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Busan, South Korea, on 18 November
The two leaders have been at the Apec meeting in South Korea
Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Japan for talks on their rapidly expanding economic ties.

He is bringing a delegation of 100 business leaders to boost trade links between the two countries, now worth around $9bn a year.

But little progress is expected in the 60-year dispute over four small islands off Japan's coast that were occupied by the Soviet Union after WWII.

The two countries have never signed a peace treaty to formally end the war.

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi admitted there was a "deep gulf" over the Kuril Islands, and warned an agreement was unlikely to be reached in his talks with Mr Putin.

Support pledges

But their meetings are likely to be amicable and productive if only because Japan needs new sources of energy and Russia has huge reserves of oil and gas, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Tokyo.

Japanese companies are investing billions of dollars to help extract natural gas in nearby regions of Russia.

Japan is also competing with China for an oil pipeline from Siberia.

Tokyo has promised to support Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organisation.

For its part Moscow is making sympathetic noises about Japan's own ambitions to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Push to improve Russia-Japan ties
14 Jan 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Koizumi presses claim to islands
02 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Russian anger over Kuril pledge
08 Feb 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Kuril islands dispute deadlocked
05 Sep 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Putin rejects Kuril agreement with Japan
04 Sep 00 |  Asia-Pacific

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