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Russia

Putin, Abe to discuss Kuril islands dispute

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Vladimir Putin

Japan and Russia will hold a new meeting on June 22 in Tokyo to discuss their territorial dispute over the Kuril islands and normalisation of bilateral relations.

The meeting on the islands, which lie northeast of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, will take place following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in May where both heads of state agreed to adopt a “new approach” on the dispute, EFE news reported.

Government representative in charge of Japan-Russia relations Chikahito Harada and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov will participate in the new meeting.

“We believe that it will be a fruitful discussion that allows for progress,” Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday.

Japan’s objective is to achieve a greater rapprochement before the next meeting between Abe and Putin which is scheduled in September in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok where the Japanese leader will attend the East Economic Forum.

Tokyo and Moscow have recently taken steps towards reconciliation despite some reluctance from Washington, who advocates Russia’s isolation in retaliation for its military intervention in Ukraine and Syria.

Japan and Russian maintain a territorial dispute over the Kuril islands, controlled by Moscow since Japan’s surrender in the Second World War in 1945, a conflict that has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty.

America

US intelligence chiefs say Russia still meddling, threatening 2018 elections

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.

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Dan Coats

WASHINGTON — Russia and other adversaries will continue to engage in cyber warfare to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances,” the nation’s top intelligence official said Tuesday.

“Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee, adding that every facet of society is being targeted with cyber intrusions.

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.

“There should be no doubt that (Putin) views the past effort as successful,” Coats said.

The national intelligence director’s comments come against the backdrop of continuing congressional and criminal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether the Kremlin coordinated their activities with President Trump’s campaign.

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Middle East

Putin vows to continue supporting Syria’s sovereignty in New Year’s telegram to Assad

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Russia will continue its assistance in “upholding its state sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and promoting a political settlement and economic recovery,” President Vladimir Putin told Syrian President Bashar Assad in a New Year’s message.

The Russian leader expressed hope that “the situation in Syria would continue changing for the better,” emphasizing that “defeating terrorists and rapidly bringing the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic back to normal” would benefit the “interests of the whole world and would improve security in the Middle East.”

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Russia

Lavrov, Tillerson discuss need for urgent North Korea negotiations: Moscow

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Lavrov Tillerson

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday discussed North Korea’s nuclear programme with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, stressing the need to start a negotiations process.

“The sides were united in the opinion that nuclear missile projects in North Korea violate the demands of the UN Security Council,” the Russian foreign ministry said after the two men spoke by telephone.

Lavrov “once again highlighted that it is unacceptable to exacerbate tensions around the Korean peninsula with Washington’s aggressive rhetoric toward Pyongyang and increasing military preparations in the region,” it said.

“It was underlined that it is necessary to move from the language of sanctions to the negotiating process as soon as possible,” the statement said, adding that it was Tillerson who initiated the call.

The UN Security Council on Friday slapped new sanctions on North Korea that will restrict oil supplies vital for its missile and nuclear programmes, the latest response to Pyongyang’s ICBM test last month.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacks the United States, while North Korea insists the world must now accept that it is a nuclear power.

Pyongyang has slammed the UN sanctions as an “act of war”.

Moscow has called for talks between North Korea and the United States, warning of a “risk of uncontrolled escalation”. Russia has also criticised Washington’s military drills with South Korea saying it provokes Pyongyang.

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