Xi's Vladivostok trip injects fresh vigor into China-Russia ties, regional cooperation

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Participants of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok signed 175 agreements for a total of 2.9 trillion rubles ($42.07 bln), Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev told reporters on Thursday.

"After that, I very much wish to invite President Xi to Japan", said Abe, speaking after meeting China's leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the forum.

The disputed islands, known as the Southern Kurils in Russian Federation and the Northern Territories in Japan, were seized by the Soviet Union in 1945 in the closing stages of World War II.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's just-concluded trip to this Russian Far East city was of far-reaching significance as it cemented mutual trust and friendship and promoted win-win regional cooperation, said Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday. Abe did not give a response.

In the past, Russian Federation and Japan have proposed initiating various joint economic projects on the disputed islands as a first step in resolving the conflict.

Tokyo quickly reiterated its preferred course: resolving Japan and Russia's long-standing territorial dispute before finalizing the post-World War II peace treaty.

"We've been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years". During the talks in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin and Abe discussed the idea of building a railway bridge from Sakhalin to mainland Russian Federation, which could later be extended to the Kuril Islands and Japan.

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Japan and the Soviet Union signed a joint declaration aimed at ending wartime hostilities and restoring diplomatic ties in 1956.

Some diplomats and analysts have taken Putin's proposal with a grain of salt.

The Russian leader said South Korea is a very important and promising partner for Russia in the Asia-Pacific region, and that he is satisfied by the developments made between the two countries. "And later we will continue to talk about all of our disagreements as friends on the basis of a peace treaty".

"This stance hasn't changed", he added. Abe smiled at the suggestion.

Establishing its sovereignty over the islands is the crucial issue for Japan, so it would be unlikely to sign a deal without first receiving some assurances from the Kremlin over the fate of the islands.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that the Russian leader did not make any such proposal during the bilateral meeting with Abe.