Putin agrees to peace deal with Japan by year end

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday offered an olive branch to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with a proposal for a peace treaty without any preconditions by the year end.

Russia and Japan were unable to sign a peace treaty after World War II due to a dispute on Kuril Islands located between the two countries.

This treaty would become a basis for resolving all controversial issues, Putin said at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

“We have been negotiating for 70 years. Shinzo said: 'Let’s change our approach.' Let’s do it. So here's the idea I came up with: let's conclude a peace treaty — not now, but before the end of the year — without any preconditions. And then, on the basis of this peace treaty, as friends, will continue to decide all disputed issues," Putin said.

The Soviet Union seized four islands of the Kuril chain in 1945 and refused to return them after the war. Russian authorities are concerned over possible deployment of U.S. missile systems on the islands in case of their return to Japan.

– Skripals poisoning

Putin said Russia had identified suspects in the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, denying that they were criminals.

"We know who they are, we found them. There is nothing criminal there," he said.

Answering the forum moderator's question about the status of these people, Putin said they were civilians.

Earlier British authorities revealed the names of the two Russian suspects of the chemical attack in the British town of Salisbury.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are wanted for conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and police officer Nick Bailey.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in Salisbury. They were both since discharged from the hospital.

Police officer Nick Bailey, who was among the first to respond to the incident, also received treatment after being poisoned.

Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a 2010 spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he had been serving a 13-year prison term for leaking information to the British intelligence.

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