Japan, Russia say on track to bolster ties despite minister's detention

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and Russia said on Tuesday they would accelerate talks on economic cooperation ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan in December, despite the detention of Russia’s economy minister.

The minister, Alexei Ulyukayev, who denies extorting a $2 million bribe from oil giant Rosneft, had led the Kremlin’s efforts to deepen cooperation with Tokyo.

“We will speed up arrangements, so that more than 10 documents in such areas as customs, human exchange and medicine can be agreed at the time of the president’s visit,” Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at a joint new conference with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

The pair were speaking after co-chairing a meeting between Japanese and Russian trade delegations.

“Judging from how our preparatory work is proceeding, I am totally confident that quite a few documents of cooperation will be signed when the Russian president makes the trip in December,” Shuvalov said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September agreed with Putin to drive economic cooperation and to work for the conclusion of a peace treaty.

A territorial row over a chain of western Pacific islands, seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War Two, has upset diplomatic relations ever since, precluding a formal peace treaty between the two countries.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Janet Lawrence