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Putin and Abe discuss Kuril Islands, WWII peace treaty

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 26, 2018. (Grigory Dukor/Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Moscow on Saturday for talks that included resolving a dispute over four Pacific islands and eventually signing a peace treaty.

Abe has been pushing for a way forward in the dispute that centers on the four most southern of the Kuril Islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories.

The Soviet Union took the islands in the closing days of World War II. The dispute has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities.

Japan is seeking to implement joint business projects on the Kuril Islands as a way to gain momentum to resolve the dispute.

"The Japanese and the Russians will be able to reap the fruits of the joint work on the islands," Abe said. "If we cooperate, we can achieve great results that bring mutual benefit."

Putin said after the meeting that a Japanese business delegation would visit the islands this year.