Russian and Japanese leaders 'decisively condemn' North Korean tests

VLADIVOSTOK (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the two leaders “decisively condemned” North Korean weapons tests.

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“We decisively condemned North Korea’s launch of a medium-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan’s territory on August 28, as well as the new nuclear tests conducted on September 3,” Putin said in a statement.

Putin reiterated that the crisis around North Korea should be resolved only by political means, and that it posed a threat to peace and stability in the region.

He called for it to be resolved through a road map proposed by Moscow and Beijing.

Putin also said he and Abe discussed the prospect of joint economic activities by their countries on the disputed Kurile islands.

The islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russia, were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two, when 17,000 Japanese residents were forced to flee.

Putin said he and Abe discussed the prospect of a peace treaty officially ending World War Two hostilities, which has never been signed because of the territorial dispute. Putin did not say how close the two countries were to such an agreement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said there could not be a timeframe for concluding a treaty.

“This is a very complicated and sensitive issue,” he said.

“Russia and Japan are steadily building up mutual trust, mutually beneficial cooperation, which cannot but promote the creation of a favorable atmosphere for finding a solution for the peace treaty.”

Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva, Denis Pinchuk and Katya Golubkova; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christian Lowe and Andrew Roche