12 Mar 2019 16:55

Russia-Japan talks on S. Kuril Islands still ongoing, 'no decided-upon modalities' - Kremlin

MOSCOW. March 12 (Interfax) - Russia and Japan are continuing negotiations concerning the future of the Southern Kuril Islands, and "there are no decided-upon modalities" on the matter at present, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

"It's not about giving the islands away or not giving them away. It's about very painstaking work being carried out together with our Japanese partners on concluding a peace treaty," Peskov told journalists on Tuesday when asked to comment on reports alleging that the Kremlin has definitively decided "not to give the islands away."

Asked whether the conclusion of a peace treaty would imply Russia returning part of its territory to Japan, Peskov replied, "As for this matter, there are no decided-upon modalities and no bargaining positions, and very patient and calm work is being carried out."

Media reports on the Russian-Japanese talks "can be listed rather as the contemplations of political experts and often have nothing in common with the nature and essence of the negotiations now being conducted," Peskov said.

"There are certainly a lot of abstract conjectures there. As for tangible facts, when the time is right, the information will be made public. Negotiations of this kind may be held for years, they are really very complicated in terms of their texture, usually no detailed information is publicized at interim stages to safeguard the continuation of these negotiations, and it is unlikely that such information will be publicized in this particular case, either," he said.

While the attitudes of Russians and findings of public opinion polls concerning the Kuril Islands are inevitably being taken into account during the negotiations, "the talks are not about whether [the islands] are to be given away or not, and the experts' job is to agree on concluding a peace treaty," Peskov said.