MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Moscow earlier in the day failed to overcome differences over four disputed Pacific islands.
Russia insists that the peace talks should be based on Japan’s full recognition of the aftermath of World War II, including Russian sovereignty over all the Southern Kurils, Lavrov told a press conference following the talks.
“This is our basic position and without a step in this direction it is very difficult to expect any progress in other issues,” he stressed.
Russia and Japan have not signed a post-World War II peace treaty due to their rival claims to four Pacific islands, called the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.
The former Soviet Union took the four islands during the final days of World War II. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the four islands were incorporated into Russia.
According to a joint declaration signed in 1956, Russia agreed to return two of the islands after a bilateral peace treaty is signed, while Japan refused to sign such an agreement, insisting on the return of all four islands.
Lavrov recalled that the 1956 declaration was signed before Japan struck a military alliance with the United States in 1960 and the American military presence in Japan has changed the situation.
Lavrov said that Russia is concerned about the U.S. military buildup in the region, including the deployment of its global missile defense system using the territory of Japan.
Washington claims that this system is aimed against threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but in fact, it creates risks for the security of Russia and China, Lavrov said.
The top Russian diplomat said that President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had spoken about the necessity to find such a solution to the peace treaty that will be supported and accepted by the peoples of both countries.
It is not an easy task, but we have readiness and patience to reach a common understanding, he said.
There are certain disagreements between Russia and Japan over the peace treaty, a solution to which has to be found in future talks, Kono told a separate news briefing following the meeting.
The failure of the two foreign ministers to reach a consensus casts a shadow on the Putin-Abe talks in Moscow slated for Jan. 22.
King Philippe of Belgium in South Korea
SEOUL: King Philippe of Belgium, who is on a four-day state visit to South Korea, will inspect the digital office of the Seoul mayor today.
Mayor Park Won-soon will introduce his smart office in person to the king, the official said. Located on the sixth floor of the city hall, the office has a digital system with a big screen that enables the mayor to see major developments happening in the capital city, including fires, disasters and traffic conditions, at a glance on a real-time basis. The inspection has been arranged at the request of King Philippe, whose sister Princess Astrid is known to have advised him to do so during his state visit that began Monday.
The princess was reportedly impressed by the system during her visit to the office in June 2017. A South Korea-Belgium symposium titled “Improving Quality of Life Through Smart Cities” was also held at the city hall prior to the king’s visit, with more than 160 experts, scholars, and businesspersons from the two nations attending. The Belgian monarch is scheduled to receive honorary citizenship from the Seoul mayor.
Asian markets stage a recovery!
HONG KONG: Asian markets staged a tentative recovery today from the previous day’s steep losses, with investors increasingly anxious about the state of the global economy.
With a mixed lead from Wall Street, regional traders had few catalysts to drive buying, while safe-haven flows saw the dollar edge up against high-yielding currencies.
Attention is also back on London, where MPs essentially wrested control of the Brexit debate from Prime Minister Theresa May with a vote that will allow them to decide on a number of possibilities for how to proceed.
Investors in Asia were suffering a hangover from Monday’s pummelling, which came on the back of a drop in benchmark 10-year Treasury bond yields below those for three-month bills – for the first time since before the global financial crisis.
This so-called inverted yield curve shows investors are more willing to buy long-term debt – usually viewed as a higher risk — as they consider the short-term outlook more hazardous. Such a scenario has preceded several recessions in recent decades.
“Recession worries may be premature for the US, but the negative signals are consistent with the recent data,” said OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya.
Pakistan urges peace through tolerance at UN Nowruz celebration
UNITED NATIONS: Hundreds of diplomats and United Nations officials joined in celebrating Nowruz, which marks the advent of spring, at UN headquarters in New York where 12 countries, including Pakistan, held a colourful food festival.
Iran coordinated the organization of the festival and along with the other participating countries — Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — presented their traditional dishes that visitors sampled.
Among the most visited was Pakistan’s stall serving delicious biryani, Seekh kabab, samosas as well as deserts like gulab jaman, gajjar ka halwa and burfi.
Greeting the visitors at Pakistan’s stall was Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, who underscored the significance of Nowruz as an occasion encourages reconciliation and good neighbourliness that lead to peace.
“It is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the values of tolerance, solidarity, and harmony, and a common aspiration for a peaceful, just and prosperous world,” she said in an interview.
“At a time when intolerance, xenophobia and Islamophobia threaten the world we live in, Nowruz shines a light of hope and optimism by its message of a new beginning, of seeking peace through tolerance and promoting dialogue and reconciliation among peoples,” the Pakistani envoy said.
Ambassador Lodhi said that as Pakistan’s contribution to internationalizing Nowruz, it became a proud co-sponsor, along with 12 other member states, including Iran, in efforts to preserve the culture associated with Nowruz through a General Assembly Resolution adopted in 2010.