Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia September 12, 2018. Valery Sharifulin/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via REUTERS
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Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Wednesday that Russia and Japan sign a peace treaty this year, ending World War II hostilities "without any preconditions" as a territorial dispute has led to decades of deadlock.The dispute between Russia and Japan centers on four islands in the strategically-located Kuril chain which the Soviet Union occupied at the end of war in 1945 but are claimed by Japan. Putin's sudden proposal came just two days after he said that the two countries' dispute was unlikely to be settled soon.On Monday, Putin had seemed to pour cold water on suggestions that the dispute could be solved soon.A former Russian deputy foreign minister, Georgy Kunadze, said he doubted Putin wanted to solve the territorial problem in earnest.Putin and Abe have held numerous meetings over the past few years in a bid to solve the dispute over the islands.
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