JAPAN and Russia signed four agreements yesterday that took their economic ties to a new level. The talks also kept alive hopes for an eventual resolution to the thorny territorial issue of the disputed Kurile Islands.
The signing came after two rounds of talks between Russian First Deputy Premier Oleg Soskovets and Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono.
The agreements include wide-ranging Japanese support for Moscow's economic reforms, rescheduling $180 million in trade insurance debt, Japan's approval and assistance for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, and establishing a bilateral trade committee.
Mr. Soskovets made certain his visit got off to a good start by agreeing to reopen fishery talks and telling Mr. Kono that Russia still stood by the ``Tokyo Declaration'' of 1993 as the basis for solving their territorial dispute.