June 29, 2011 / 1:10 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Russia proposes oil, gas venture with Japan near disputed islands-Nikkei

* Islands north of Japan have overshadowed relations for more than 60 years

* Project would be part of economic cooperation Russian and Japan agreed upon (Adds more interview details, historical background)

June 29 (Reuters) - Russia will call on Japan to jointly develop oil and natural gas resources near an island chain north of Japan, the Nikkei business daily said, in an area claimed by both which has overshadowed relations for more than six decades.     Viktor Ishayev, Russia’s presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, told the Nikkei in an interview that Russia will propose to jointly develop deposits off one of the islands in the Pacific known in Japan as Kunashiri.

The project would be part of the economic cooperation focus that the two nations agreed to in February to discuss and could be brought up in high-level bilateral talks to be held this year, the paper said.

Still, Russia may not restrict partnering with Japan to develop natural resources near the disputed islands. Ishayev told the Nikkei that countries like the United States, China, Brunei and Singapore could be interested in development if Japanese firms and investments do not make their way to the islands.

Kunashiri is part of an island chain called the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, which the Soviet Union seized after it declared war on Japan in the closing days of World War Two.

The row over the islands has weighed on relations ever since, precluding a formal peace treaty between Russia and Japan.

Tensions recently flared after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited one of the islands in November, the first by a Kremlin leader.

Reporting by Kartick Jagtap in Bangalore and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Ed Lane

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