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Moscow not to recall ambassador to Tokyo over Kurils row, says Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

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November 02, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Russia will not recall its ambassador to Japan following a diplomatic row over the disputed Kuril Islands, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

The dispute over four of the islands, which both countries have laid claim to since they were occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, was sparked when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Kunashir Island on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Japan announced it was temporarily recalling its ambassador to Russia, Masaharu Kono.

Lavrov said Japan’s move was its own domestic affair.

“On the whole, we are puzzled by the continuing escalation of emotions from the Japanese side,” the minister said, adding that Medvedev was planning to visit another Kuril Islands.

Prior to Medvedev’s visit, Japan said the arrival of the Russian leader could complicate bilateral relations, but Russia’s Foreign Ministry rejected the comments saying Medvedev “defines the routes of trips across his country on his own.”

The visit was the first trip by a head of state of Russia or the former Soviet Union to the South Kuril Islands.

Tokyo’s continued claim over four South Kuril Islands (Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai) to the northeast of Japan has so far prevented Russia and Japan from signing a formal peace treaty to end World War II hostilities.

OSLO, November 2 (RIA Novosti)

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