Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu agreed April 16 to tackle their long-standing territorial dispute and close what Mr. Gorbachev called one of the last fronts in the cold war. In an emotive appeal, Gorbachev told his Japanese host they must not miss an opportunity to raise ties between the world's second- and third- largest economic powers to a new level, spokesmen for both sides said.

Soviet spokesman Vitaly Ignatenko said the discussions would cover all issues, including Japanese claims on remote northern islands seized by the Red Army at the end of World War II.

The dispute has barred a treaty formally ending World War II and blocked much-needed Japanese investment, which could help jump-start the moribund Soviet economy.

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