efe-epaMoscow

The President of Russia said Wednesday he was willing to sign a peace treaty with Japan - pending since the end of the Second World War - without any preconditions before the end of the year.

Vladimir Putin, addressing a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok, said that Moscow and Tokyo have been in talks for 70 years to sign a treaty.

"Let's sign a peace agreement - not now, but before the end of the year - without any preliminary conditions," Putin said to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his address, aired live on television.

"And then we will continue to address all controversial issues as friends based on the peace treaty," he added.

Putin said the peace deal would boost bilateral ties and contribute to the stability of the region.

The agreement would also help both to resolve long-running disputes - such as the sovereignty of the Kuril islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan - that has strained ties between the two nations since the Second World War.

During his address Putin also warned against growing protectionism, calling it a challenge for the global economy, and particularly, for the development of the Asia-Pacific region.

He said rising trade protectionism undermines the basic principles of trade, competition and mutual economic benefit.

Putin also underlined the need for the Asia-pacific region to retain the spirit of economic freedom and free enterprise.