Russia's Putin says his Japan peace treaty proposal was no joke

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin cook pancakes together

Modal Trigger Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin cook pancakes together. Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin used an appearance at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday to float the idea of signing a peace treaty with Japan "without preconditions" by the end of 2018.

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping buttered each other up Tuesday - tossing pancakes on the sidelines of an economic forum.

For the past several years Putin and Abe have been discussing ways to solve the longstanding dispute, including making the four most southern of the Kuril Islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, a joint economic zone.

In a move that took Japanese officials by surprise, Putin publically proposed to Abe that the two sign peace treaty to end World War II.

Shinzo Abe also said the living generation has the responsibility to "completely remove the post-war scenery" from the region.

Relations between China and Japan soured in 2012 over a territorial dispute over several tiny islands in the East China Sea.

The two countries have never signed a peace treaty, and Japan continues to dispute the ownership of the Kuril islands that are occupied by Russian Federation. They are administered by Russian Federation and claimed by Japan.

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"It is not a joke", Putin added, suggesting the two countries commit to solving the territorial dispute in the text of the agreement. When asked if he was concerned about a potential military alliance between Russian Federation and China in the future, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he did not see the two countries aligned in the long-term."I think that nations act out of their interest".

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a treaty with Russian Federation would be signed "after resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands", referring to the disputed territory.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also attended.

A Japanese government spokesman said the country's stance had not changed.

"We have been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years".

During Xi's visit, Xi and Putin charted the course for bilateral pragmatic cooperation in the next phase - strengthening the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, expanding cooperation in such fields as energy, agriculture, scientific and technological innovation and finance, promoting the steady implementation of major projects, and boosting joint research and development of cutting-edge science and technology.

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