Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday agreed that the solution to the two countries' nearly 70-year-old bilateral island dispute lies on the principle of a draw.
Abe and Putin, who talked on the sidelines of the G20 summit of world leaders in St Petersburg, "very briefly but pointedly discussed the issue of a peace agreement between Russia and Japan," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
"Both sides expressed an understanding that the solution to the problem of the peace agreement can only be based on the principle that there are no victors or losers," he said.
"That is called hikiwake in Japanese, and Putin, as a judoist, is familiar with the expression," he said, referring to the sports term that means a tie or draw.
Abe and Putin "agreed" that hikiwake is "the principle that one needs to use to approach the problem," said Peskov.
Russia and Japan have never signed a World War II peace treaty after the war ended because of the disputed status of the four southern Kuril Islands that the Soviet Red Army took in 1945 but Tokyo still claims.
Relations between Moscow and Tokyo have been strained for decades because of the islands, which the previous president Dmitry Medvedev visited to Japan's fury.
The Kuril islands extend in a chain from Russia's Kamchatka peninsula separating the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Japan and are part of Russia's Far Eastern Sakhalin region.
The southernmost four in the archipelago are called Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan, and Habomai.
In April, Putin and Abe pledged to renew efforts to find a solution to regulate the row.
Putin and Abe met for the third time this year and will meet again in about two months at the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit, Peskov said, praising business ties between the countries and calling the talks "very fruitful."© (C) 2013 AFP