Putin: Japan once passed up chance to take back two disputed isles

September 5, 2016 10:13 AM EDT

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HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - The Soviet Union was ready to return to Japan two of the four Pacific islands that are the focus of a territorial dispute between Moscow and Tokyo, but Japan declined, leaving the row unresolved, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

"The Soviet Union received (the islands), the Soviet Union was ready to give back those islands," Putin told a news conference at the end of a G20 summit in China.

On attempts to settle the dispute now, he said: "There remain issues linked to the economy, to security issues... There are also humanitarian issues. All these issues are the focus of our attention and consideration."

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Katya Golubkova, Jack Stubbs and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Christian Lowe)

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