Japan's Premier Fukuda departs for summit with Russian president
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda left Japan Friday for his first summit with Russia's president in hopes of boosting bilateral economic ties and seeking cooperation for the Group of Eight summit to be held on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido in July, dpa reported.
"Looking at the global situation, I think it is time for us to mutually cooperate with Russia extensively on bigger issues," Fukuda was quoted as saying prior to departure Friday.
Fukuda was expected to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin and incoming leader Dmitry Medvedev improvement of economic ties and technical cooperation to bring the bilateral relationship to a "higher dimension."
While Russia hopes for a Japanese contribution to eastern Siberia development and help in boosting energy efficiency, Japan is eying Russia's oil supply to decrease its dependence on Mid-East resources.
Fukuda has also expressed determination to bring up long-disputed territorial issues centring on the disputed Kuril islands with Putin and Medvedev on Saturday.
Fukuda has said he would negotiate for the handover to Japan of the islands in a "stronger" manner than past Japanese administrations. But no major agreements on the territorial dispute were expected to be made at the Moscow talks, government officials were quoted as saying.
The Kuril islands dispute has disrupted bilateral relationships between Japan and Russia for decades, preventing the two nations from drawing a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities.
Fukuda is scheduled to leave Russia to return to Japan Saturday night.