Japan-Russia Foreign Ministerial Talks at the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting
May 24, 2003
The foreign ministers of Japan and Russia, visiting Paris for the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, held bilateral talks for 45 minutes from 15:00 on May 23 (local time). The following is an overview of the talks.
1. Political Schedule
(1) Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Ivanov welcomed the fact that the "Japan-Russia Action Plan", which was adopted on the occasion of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Russia in January and which stipulates the direction for the development of bilateral relations as a whole, appeared to be making steady progress. In particular, he said, the development of the political dialogue is important, and it is also important for the high-level political dialogue, inter-parliamentary exchange, and inter-ministerial exchange to make progress.
(2) In response, Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi, after expressing condolences once again concerning the terrorist bombing in Chechnya, said that she would like to visit Vladivostok on June 28 - 30 to hold a joint meeting of the chairpersons of the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Issues.
(3) In response, Foreign Minister Ivanov stated that it had been decided that Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko would participate in the meeting and welcomed the holding of this meeting. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi stated that such high-level exchange was important also from the perspective of implementing the "Action Plan".
2. The Issue of Conclusion of a Peace Treaty
(1) Foreign Minister Kawaguchi stated that, amid the steady implementation of the "Action Plan", she wanted to accelerate the negotiations without dropping the issue of the conclusion of a peace treaty in the order of priority. Also, bearing in mind the determination of the leaders of the two countries, and together with Foreign Minister Ivanov, she wanted to think about a means of solving the issue of the attribution of the four islands based on the agreements achieved between the two countries so far, including the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration in 1956, the Tokyo Declaration, and the Irkutsk Statement. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi also stressed that it was important to conduct enlightenment activities among the peoples of the two nations, continue cooperation relating to the four islands, including the agreement on fishing operations for marine living resources and exchange between Japanese citizens and the current Russian residents of the Northern Territories, and maintain a constructive atmosphere.
(2) In response, Foreign Minister Ivanov said that searching for a mutually acceptable solution was the most important issue between the two countries and that the Russian side is ready to continue the dialogue. He said that achieving a solution to the problem was in the interests of both countries and that the Russian side agreed to continue efforts in accordance with the agreements achieved so far between the two countries. Foreign Minister Ivanov also expressed the view that a solution of the problem was possible through the development of bilateral relations in a wide range of fields and the strengthening of bilateral relations of trust. He said that Russia welcomes the fact that the "Action Plan" was making progress in various fields.
3. Cooperation in the Energy Field
(1) Sakhalin Project
Foreign Minister Kawaguchi said that cooperation in the energy field was an important item in the "Action Plan" and that Sakhalin 2 had announced the decision to invest a total of $10 billion in the next development stage. This decision, she said, had been made possible because Japanese gas and electric power companies had decided to purchase LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) from that project for more than 20 years. Also, regarding Sakhalin 1, preparations are going ahead for the construction of a crude oil pipeline. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi welcomed the progress in these projects as an important step toward realization of the "Action Plan" and asked for continued cooperation from the Russian government for their smooth implementation.
In response, Foreign Minister Ivanov welcomed the development of cooperation between Japan and Russian in the energy field and said that the development of such cooperation was in the interests of both countries.
(2) Pacific Pipeline Project
Foreign Minister Ivanov said that although he was not aware of the details of the ministerial meeting on future energy strategy held in Russia on May 22, welcomed the fact that Japan has an interest in cooperation in the energy field. He expressed the hope for a detailed exchange of opinions between Foreign Minister Kawaguchi and Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko, who is in charge of the energy field, when she visits the Russian Far East at the end of June.
In response, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi said she was aware that the Russian government was still in the process of studying the pipeline route but expressed the hope that, in view of the strategic and geopolitical significance of this project, a decision would be reached in the form of promoting cooperation with Japan.
In response, Foreign Minister Ivanov explained that in making a decision regarding the pipeline, the Russia side saw the construction of a pipeline to Nakhodka in a politically affirmative manner and that he was sure the decision would be made on the basis of economics and profitability, bearing in mind political factors. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi replied that whatever way, it was important for a decision to be made that was a plus for both countries.
4. Cooperation for Denuclearization
Foreign Minister Ivanov stated that progress had been seen in the past few months in the field of the dismantling of decommissioned nuclear submarines through the lively efforts of the Committee on Cooperation for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and that he positively evaluated these efforts. He said that Foreign Minister Kawaguchi's visit to Vladivostok was also related to this point and that he welcomed the choice.
In response, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi explained that the decision to visit Vladivostok had been made following a proposal by Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko to hold the joint chairpersons' meeting in the Russian Far East. At the same time, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi explained that the decision to visit Vladivostok had been made because she wanted to see the place with her own eyes in view of the fact that work on dismantling the first nuclear submarine is expected to begin there soon.
5. Japanese Culture Festival in Russia 2003
Foreign Minister Ivanov pointed out that the opening event of this festival had taken place successfully in St. Petersburg on April 20.
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