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Tuesday, December 30, 1997 Published at 17:30 GMT

World: Europe

Tentative Russo-Japanese fishing agreement

Russia and Japan have reached a tentative agreement on fishing rights near the disputed Kurile Islands, which could resolve a conflict souring their relations for years.

The head of the Russian delegation in the talks Vassily Saplin said the draft agreement will be studied by the governments in Moscow and Tokyo and could be formally approved and signed within weeks.

The agreement sets limits on Japanese commercial fishing around the islands.

In the past Russian military patrols have fired on Japanese fishing boats entering the disputed waters.

Russia seized four islands in the Kuril chain at the end of World War 2 and Japan has been demanding their return ever since

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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