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Japan's prime minister will arrive in Moscow on Friday
Japan's prime minister will arrive in Moscow on Friday on an official visit, and will seek to establish ties with the country's president-elect ahead of the Group of Eight summit to be held Japan in July.

Yasuo Fukuda will meet on Saturday with outgoing President Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, set to take office on May 7, for discussions likely to include a long-running territorial dispute as well as plans to build high-speed rail link in Russia using Japanese technology.

"During the visit the sides plan to discuss the future agenda of political dialogue at the highest level, including preparations for a bilateral meeting between the Russian president and the Japanese prime minister on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido," a Kremlin source told RIA Novosti.

The visit follows Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura's trip to Moscow last week, during which the diplomat met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks that focused on efforts to sign a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities.

The dispute over the South Kuril Islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories, which were annexed by the Soviet Union after World War II, has prevented the two countries from signing a peace deal.

When visiting the South Kurils last year, Lavrov proposed that Russia and Japan cooperate to develop the region. However, Tokyo has not yet responded to the proposal, fearing that consent could be taken as recognition of Russia's ownership of the territory.

Komura proposed continuing dialogue on the issue and holding a Russian-Japanese summit before the G8.

Russia's outgoing President Putin said last week he plans to scale down his international activities as prime minister to focus on domestic issues, and will not be attending the G8 summit.

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