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Russia, Japan exchange pets as gifts

July 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

MOSCOW, July 28 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he will send a Siberian cat as a thank you gift to a governor in Japan, who gave him an Akita Inu puppy.

Norihisa Satake, head of the Akita prefecture in Japan, sent a three-month-old Akita Inu puppy named Yume to Putin in appreciation for Russia's assistance after last year's earthquake and tsunami, RIA Novosti reported.

The puppy arrived in Moscow Friday, but she will officially be handed over to Putin Sunday.

"I hope that this gift will make a contribution to the deepening of mutual understanding and the further development of relations between Japan and Russia," Satake said.

In return, Putin announced Saturday he will send a similar gift to Satake, RIA Novosti reported.

"I ask you to express my gratitude to the governor for the present, the Akita Inu puppy. She [the dog] is already in Moscow," Putin said at a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba.

"I was told that [Satake] is a cat person. I will in return send him a Siberian cat, a bigger one" Putin added.

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