The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

Japan’s Abe seeks better ties with Moscow:  Despite a long-standing dispute over the Kuril Islands, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said a “new era” of cooperation with Russia is due following conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

No formal peace treaty between the two nations was ever concluded at the end of the Second World War.

Abe called for an end of “difficulties” which have separated the two nations for 70 years.

At stake is Russian control over the Kuril Islands.  Russia has claimed sovereignty over four islands since 1945 and expelled all Japanese citizens in 1946; Japan claims the four islands in the group are Japanese. Tokyo has long insisted a formal peace treaty must include a return of the four islands to Japan.

Complicating matters between the two nations was Tokyo’s association with the Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over Ukraine.  The two men agreed to hold a summit in Tokyo in December.

Le Pen pledges EU plebiscite if elected:   Appearing in public for the first time in one month, National Front party leader Marine Le Pen pledged to hold a Brexit-style referendum on France’s membership in the European Union if elected to the French presidency.

Le Pen’s National Front strongly supported Labour efforts in the UK to break from the economic bloc.

Merkel’s party suffers loss in regional election:  Suffering from dwindling approval ratings over her handling of the immigration crisis in Germany, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union placed third in regional elections in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania with 19 percent of the total vote.

Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), a far-right party, gathered 21 percent of the vote; Social Democratic Party (SPD) earned 30 percent.

The provincial elections are seen as a referendum on Merkel’s leadership heading into national elections scheduled for 2017.

Syrian troops lay siege to Aleppo:  Following the stalled talks and the lack of cooperation between Russia and the U.S. coalition, Syrian troops and their allied rebel groups have laid siege to Aleppo.

Blunted in their attempt to break the Syrian army’s encirclement of the city, on Sunday Syrian troops drove insurgents from the Ramousah military facility inside the city; Ramousah had served as a weapons store for the Syrian army.

The siege runs concurrent with the Turkish incursion into northern Syria aimed at Islamic State (ISIS) strongholds near the Turkish-Syrian border and a rebel offensive targeting insurgent-controlled Maan.

Putin reaches out to UK’s May at G20:  Emerging from a sidebar with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Russian President Vladimir Putin he seeks to pursue better relations with the UK.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Pskov told reporters Mr. Putin sent a message the Kremlin is interested in a restoration of ties and bilateral talks in all areas of mutual concern.


[RT News] [Reuters] [BBC]