Visit to Japan by Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko of Russia

On June 7 Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko of Russia came to Japan to attend the funeral for ex-Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. He paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and had a meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono. The following is a summary of those proceedings.

1. Meeting with Prime Minister Mori

(1) Thoughts on ex-Prime Minister Obuchi

(a) Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko said that ex-Prime Minister Obuchi had done much to develop Japan-Russia relations and would long be remembered by the Russian people.

(b) In response, Prime Minister Mori said that ex-Prime Minister Obuchi had devoted himself to a substantial improvement in Japan-Russia relations and made earnest efforts to establish a "creative partnership" between the two countries. He added that he himself would do his best to realize the ex-prime minister's aspirations.

(2) Bilateral relations

(a) The two sides agreed that the meeting between the two leaders in St. Petersburg was fruitful.

(b) After conveying Russian President Vladimir Putin's regards to Prime Minister Mori, Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko said that the timing of President Putin's official visit to Japan had been almost agreed, and that a concrete schedule would be proposed shortly. He also stated that Japan-Russia relations were in a more favorable condition than ever before, and expressed his hopes that the official visit by President Putin would also contribute to the improvement of bilateral relations.

(c) Prime Minister Mori expressed the wish of the Japanese side that the official visit by President Putin in late August would be fruitful. He also stressed his desire to pursue discussions on a wide range of areas based on the agreements that have been hammered out by the two sides thus far.

(d) Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko broached the idea of holding a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs in advance of President Putin's official visit to Japan. Prime Minister Mori replied that this matter could be discussed with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

2. Meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Kono

(1) Thoughts on ex-Prime Minister Obuchi

There was a similar kind of exchange as in the meeting with Prime Minister Mori.

(2) Kyushu-Okinawa Summit

(a) Foreign Minister Kono expressed his wish to discuss such issues related to Russia as Japan's cooperation in encouraging foreign investment in Russia, to which President Putin also attaches importance, and the integration of the Russian economy into the world economic system, above all the admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and to send a positive message in these areas at the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit.

(b) Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko pointed out three areas to which Russia attaches importance at the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. First, Russia will prepare an economic reform program before the Summit and explain it to the other leaders at the Summit in the hopes of getting their endorsement. Second, Russia expects the current discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank on Russia's macroeconomic situation and structural reforms to reach a basic agreement before the Summit. And third, Russia hopes that the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit will take up the issues of Russia's economic reform, the investment environment, and external debt as subjects of considerable importance.

(3) Bilateral relations

(a) Foreign Minister Kono stated his intention to work closely with Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko on trade and economic issues. He also stressed the importance of concluding a peace treaty by resolving the territorial issue, adding that this subject was always on his mind and that he wanted to address it together with Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko.

(b) Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko said that President Putin's upcoming visit to Japan would be an excellent opportunity for full and in-depth dialogue on the peace treaty, and that it was essential to find a resolution that would not be detrimental to either side.

(c) Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko proposed to hold a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs in advance of President Putin's visit. Foreign Minister Kono replied that he was attaching great importance to President Putin's visit and wanted to consult closely with Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko on the question of holding the committee so that it would have a positive influence on the President's visit.


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