’Missile deployment should not hurt Russia-Japan talks’

This picture taken on November 19, 2016 shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shaking hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Lima. / AFP / Sputnik / Michael Klimentyev
Updated 23 November 2016
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’Missile deployment should not hurt Russia-Japan talks’

MOSCOW/TOKYO: Russia said on Wednesday it hoped its deployment of missile systems on the Kurile islands would not damage efforts to settle the long-running territorial dispute between Moscow and Tokyo over the islands.
Russian media reported on Tuesday that Bastion and Bal anti-ship missile systems were now in operation on the islands, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean over which Russia and Japan have staked rival claims for 70 years.
Delicate diplomacy is underway to prepare for a meeting between the Russian and Japanese leaders in December, when both sides say they hope progress can be made toward settling the dispute.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the Russian Defense Ministry had grounds for deploying the missile systems, without giving any details.
“But at the same time from our point of view it should not in any way influence the centripetal trend which exists in our bilateral relations with Tokyo,” Peskov said.
He said that trend existed “in terms of the careful preparations for the forthcoming visit of President Putin to Japan and in terms of continuing contacts to develop our bilateral ties, especially in the economic sphere, and negotiations on the peace deal issue.”
After reports of the deployment emerged, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the government needed time to consider an appropriate response, Kyodo news agency reported.
The Bastion is a mobile defense system armed with two anti-ship missiles with a range of up to 300 km (188 miles). It has also been deployed in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The Bal anti-ship missile has a similar range.
The dispute over the islands, known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, has strained relations between the two countries since World War Two when Soviet forces occupied four islands at the southern end of the chain, and Moscow and Tokyo have still not signed a formal peace treaty ending wartime hostilities.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has launched what he has described as a new approach to dealing with Russia over the row and has arranged to meet Putin in his home town of Nagato in southern Japan.
“No matter what the intentions were from the Russian side, this is more bad news for Abe,” said James Brown, an associate professor at Temple University Japan Campus in Tokyo.
“The Kantei (prime minister’s office) will need to work hard to convince the Japanese public of the wisdom of the ‘new approach’.”


Pence urges EU to recognize Guaido as Venezuela president

Updated 11 min 55 sec ago
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Pence urges EU to recognize Guaido as Venezuela president

MUNICH, Germany: US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday called on the European Union to recognize Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela.
“All of us must stand with the Venezuelan people until freedom and democracy is fully restored,” Pence told the Munich Security Conference. “So today we call on the European Union to step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guido as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.”