Russia and Japan Discuss Asia-Pacific Missile Defence System

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov yesterday held talks with Shigeru Ishiba, the head of the Japanese Defence Agency. According to the Foreign Ministry's press service, Ishiba was visiting Russia at the invitation of Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov. During the meeting, the two men touched on the issue of creating a missile defence shield in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Ivanov, the creation of such a system on a bloc basis 'could arouse concern among other countries, which would complicate the situation in the region.' The participants in the meeting came to the conclusion that in order to clarify the situation it would be desirable to hold consultations between representatives of the two countries' defence and foreign ministries.

Ivanov and Ishiba also exchanged opinions regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula. They both came out against using force to resolve the problem. However, in the light of increased tension caused by North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, both sides noted the importance of strictly following the requirements laid down by international treaties.

Ivanov was pleased to note the high level of military contacts between Russia and Japan, which have increased recently. In turn, Shigeru Ishiba called for the further development of ties between the Japanese and Russian defence ministries to follow the 'Russian-Japanese Plan of Action' signed on January 10 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

In accordance with this document, Russia and Japan will develop cooperation in the energy sphere - in transporting energy resources, and developing oil and gas fields in the Far East and Siberia. The plan also examines issues connected with the realisation of the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects.

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