State Duma: Russia's relations with Asian states practically cloudless

Japan's territorial claim to Russia's South Kuril islands is practically the only headache for Moscow in its Asia and Pacific Rim policies while Russia has "a lot of problems" with Europe, according to the Russian State Duma's foreign affairs chief.

"Except for its points of dispute with Japan, Russia has no political problems in the east," Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Duma's International Affairs Committee, told a news conference at Interfax' head office in Moscow on Thursday.

However, "despite our arguments with Japan about the Kurils, the Japanese badly need our liquefied natural gas," Pushkov said. "There are discussions underway all the time in seeking to ensure smooth oil supplies via the terminals that we are currently building in the Far East."

"If they don't solve the Kuril problem, these factors will be developing in parallel with it, and developing positively as well," the lawmaker said.

As other nations in the Asia-Pacific Region go, the North Korean nuclear program is Russia's only snag, according to Pushkov. However, Moscow actively cooperates with the international community in seeking a solution to the problem, he said.

"We have no problems with the wonderful state of Singapore. Nor have we had any with China after we settled out territorial disputes," Pushkov said.

There is nothing to cloud Russia's relations with South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand either, according to him.

On the other hand, "we have a lot of problems in our European policies," he said. "Our partnership in the West is under the very heavy burden of history and the citizenship problem - consequences of the disintegration of the USSR - with Estonia and Latvia."

For this reason, there are more opportunities for Russia in the east, he argued. "There no one would adopt 'Magnitsky lists'. In the United States, the Jackson-Vanik law has still not been repealed. We don't record any such absurdity in the east," he said.

Furthermore, Western countries "are slightly annoyed by the powerful tandem of Russia and China," Pushkov said. "This tandem will be a source of certain political influence, and is already, in particular in the UN and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization."

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