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Kuril Islands Want To Join Moscow

October 28, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ If they can’t become part of Japan, the disputed Kuril Islands want to be part of Moscow, a news report said today.

The head of the South Kuril administration, Vladimir Zema, has written to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov asking him to take the Kurils under his patronage and draw investors’ attention to the islands, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

On Tuesday, Zema said the South Kuril administration also was circulating a petition to lease the islands to Japan on a long-term basis. He said local authorities have the right under a 1992 presidential decree to lease land to foreigners for up to 99 years.

Zema said the petition was driven by the Russian government’s ``complete indifference″ to the islands’ problems.

The Soviet Union seized the Kuril Islands from Japan at the end of World War II, and the dispute has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty.

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