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Abe's Russian diplomacy draws sneers in Moscow, baffles West

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of officials in a Moscow suburb Aug. 5.   © Reuters

MOSCOW -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking diplomatic risks with little prospect of a payoff in his push to improve Japan's relations with Russia.

     Moscow shows no serious interest in strategic diplomacy with Tokyo, while Western leaders wonder what Abe is trying to accomplish by playing a futile diplomatic game with Vladimir Putin, whom they see as the world's No. 1 troublemaker at the moment.

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