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    To complete the set of contentious meetings this weekend, Prime Minister Koizumi met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin:

    In summit talks Monday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to expand their economic ties but broke no new ground on the Northern Territories dispute.

    Japanese officials described the Tokyo talks as frank and thorough. Both sides seemed happier skirting the contentious territorial issue–apparently for fear of having to make drastic concessions that would not win public approval at home.

    The two sides signed 12 agreements ranging from energy development and telecommunications to fighting terrorism and promoting tourism.

    Analysts suggested that Moscow feels it has the upper hand right now because the Russian economy stands to benefit from high oil prices. In addition, a swell in nationalistic sentiment in Russia may make it more difficult for Putin to give ground on the dispute.

    After nine years here, I have to wonder: When and where is nationalist sentiment ever not swelling in Asia and its environs?

    The Nikkei editorial on the meeting this morning added uncharacteristically little. Besides the dispute over islands, the negotiations for a Siberian pipeline didn’t produce an agreement as firm as Japan would have liked.

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