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Cablegate: Mfa Discusses the Kiril Islands with Codel Rohrabacher

DE RUEHMO #3584/01 3461511
P 111511Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MFA Discusses the Kiril Islands with Codel Rohrabacher

1. (SBU) Summary: Visiting Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R, CA)
met with Russian MFA's Director of Asia-Pacific Regions Mikhail
Galuzin on December 6 to discuss the Kiril Islands dispute between
Russia and Japan. The Congressman presented to Galuzin his proposed

solution to the dispute, while Galuzin outlined current Russian
perspectives on the issue. According to Galuzin, the dispute is a
bilateral issue, and no discussion can take place without addressing

the competing sovereignty claims. He complained that while Russia
wished to expand the Russo-Japanese bilateral relationship despite
the territorial dispute, Japan saw the resolution of the dispute as
precondition to further cooperation in other areas of common
interest. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In a December 6 meeting with MFA's Director of Asia-Pacific

Regions Department Mikhail Galuzin, Representative Dana Rohrabacher

(R-California) expressed concern that China could pose a common
threat to Russian and U.S. interests in the future. In his view, if

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left unchecked, China would continue to support rogue states around

the world and eventually try to take over Siberia and areas of
Russian influence. He therefore argued for the creation of an
alliance between the United States, Russia, Japan, and India against

possible Chinese threats, and the first step in achieving this goal

should be the improvement of bilateral relations between Russia and


3. (SBU) In this regard, Representative Rohrabacher put forth a
proposal to resolve the Kiril Islands/Northern Territories dispute
between the two countries. The plan would set aside the sovereignty

question for a hundred years and create a free trade zone for the
four islands and their surrounding waters. Both Russian and
citizens could freely do business or take up residence on the
islands, and the territories would be governed by a condominium
system. At the end of the hundred-year period, a referendum by the

island residents would determine the political status of the
territories. Rohrabacher indicated that while the MFA was the first

to receive this proposal in writing, he had discussed this idea with

the Japanese ambassador in Washington. He also had discussions
China with Prime Minister Aso, who was receptive to the idea of
India, Russia, Japan, and the United States working together on the

challenges that China posed.

4. (SBU) Galuzin responded that the Russian government considered

China a strategic partner and preferred to work through inclusive
collective organizations in the Asian Pacific region rather than
blocs or alliances with limited membership. He said that excluding

countries from regional arrangements would raise suspicions and harm

the cooperative atmosphere in the region. He praised Representative

Rohrabacher for being a good friend of Russia and welcomed his
efforts to help mediate the territorial dispute between Russia and
Japan. However, he emphasized that while the GOR was always open to

new ideas, discussions on this issue could not be separated from the

jurisdictional claims. For Russia, the islands were not just dots
a map, but integral parts of how Russia assessed the outcome of
War II, which remained a sensitive and emotional issue. The legal
basis for the Russian claim of sovereignty over the four Southern
Kiril islands was the Yalta Conference of 1945, from which the
agreements between the United States, the Soviet Union, and the
United Kingdom still remained in force.

5. (SBU) Emphasizing that Russia considered the territorial
to be a bilateral issue, Galuzin provided an overview of the
discussions between the two governments to date. While both were
unwilling to compromise on their sovereignty claim to all four
disputed islands, there had been attempts over the years to improve

MOSCOW 00003584 002 OF 002

the atmosphere surrounding the islands. Russian residents of the
islands were allowed visa-free travel to Japan, and Japanese
could do the same to visit the islands. Japanese fishermen
to fish in waters off the islands in accordance with an annual
bilateral agreement on the volume and type of fish set aside for
them. Galuzin indicated that the Russian government would very much

welcome Japanese business presence on the islands, but admitted that

since Russia wanted such business ties developed according to
legislation governing investments on the Kiril Islands, the Japanese

side would not take up such an offer for fear of compromising its
sovereignty claims.

6. (SBU) Galuzin complained that the Japanese government had been

hindering progress on additional cooperative measures regarding the

islands, as well as the expansion of bilateral relations, pending
resolution of the sovereignty issue. He asserted that such an
approach was misguided and missed opportunities for cooperation in
areas of common interest such as energy security, trade, and counter

terrorism. Pointing out that the two-way trade volume between
and Japan was now at $30 billion year to date, and all Japanese car

makers had manufacturing presence in Russia, he stated that the
resolution of the territorial dispute should not be a precondition
for developing a potentially mutually beneficial relationship.

7. (SBU) Comment: Galuzin took over the reins of the Asia-Pacific

Regions Department at the MFA two and half months ago, after a stint

as the Charge d'Affaires in Tokyo. He is a long time Japan hand,
an unassuming manner, and speaks fluent English.
8. (U) The delegation did not have an opportunity to clear this

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