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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

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LONDON (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday he would like Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Japan to discuss the disputed Kurile Islands and the signing of a formal World War Two peace treaty.

"We would like to search for the most appropriate time for Putin to visit Japan," Abe, who is due to meet Putin on Friday, told reporters during a visit to London.

"The Northern Territories (Kurile) issue can’t be resolved without direct talks between leaders," he added. "We have had more than 70 years of the post war era and still a peace treaty has not been concluded. This is anomalous."

He said a treaty was needed to realise the full potential of Japan's relationship with Russia.

The dispute over the islands has strained relations since World War Two, when Soviet forces occupied four islands at the southern end of the chain. The Kremlin said on Wednesday that this week's talks was unlikely to result in serious progress.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; writing by Stephen Addison; Editing by Michael Holden)

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