A Russian government official yesterday appeared to splash cold war on earlier, optimistic reports that last week’s Japanese-Russian talks on fishing rights in the waters of the disputed Kuril Islands had achieved some sort of breakthrough. According to Igor Sinelnikov, deputy head of a department in Russia’s Agriculture and Food Ministry, the Moscow talks failed to achieve any significant results. Sinelnikov blamed the lack of progress on what he suggested was Japan’s determination to link the resolution of economic questions related to fishing rights with the broader political issue of ownership of the disputed islands. The talks last week were the tenth round of official negotiations on fishing rights; the two sides have been meeting since March 1995 with little success.
Both Japanese and Russian news sources on July 5 had painted a more positive picture of the latest talks. Japanese officials reported that the two sides had concluded an accord on the jurisdiction of waters around the four disputed islands and suggested that a next round of talks, later this year, might look at specific issues related to regulation of Japanese boats fishing near the islands. A Russian diplomat downplayed what he called "over-enthusiastic" reporting of the meeting, but nevertheless conceded that "considerable progress" had been reached. (Kyodo, Itar-Tass, Russian agencies, July 5, 7)
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