Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 18:31 UK

Japan and Russia pen nuclear deal

Vladimir Putin and Taro Aso (12 May 2009)
Mr Putin said that it was important both countries developed economic ties

Japan and Russia have signed their first nuclear energy co-operation agreement during a visit to Tokyo by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The deal will enable the transfer of Japanese technology to Russia and the sale of more nuclear fuel to Japan.

Mr Putin and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso, also pledged to study "all options" to end a territorial dispute.

Both claim sovereignty over islands Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia calls the Southern Kurils.

The four islands have been under Russian control since the end of World War II, and the issue has since prevented the two nations from signing a comprehensive peace treaty.

Map of Kuril Islands

"We must reach a final resolution on the sovereignty over the four islands in order to remove the obstacle of the territorial issue that lies between Japan and Russia," Mr Aso told a news conference in Tokyo.

"In this meeting, we were able to confirm that the prime minister has a strong resolve to move toward the final resolution of the issue," he added.

Mr Putin said that it was important that both countries developed "economic co-operation in order to create conditions for the signing of a peace treaty".

While president between 2000 and 2008, he refused to make any concessions over the islands.

Tuesday's nuclear accord will also pave the way for joint mining and oil ventures, and commercial contracts worth billions of dollars.

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