Russian defense minister visits disputed islands

Updated: 2011-02-04 15:57
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VLADIVOSTOK - Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Friday visited the disputed Southern Kuril islands also claimed by Japan, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Serdyukov left the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk for the "18th machine gun-artillery division based on the Kuril islands of Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan," Itar-Tass quoted the Defence Ministry as saying.

"During the planned trip the minister will inspect combat readiness and material provision of troops, as well as everyday living conditions of servicemen and their families," it added.

The visit came just days after a Russian government delegation led by Regional Development Minister Victor Basargin travelled to the islands on Monday.

Russia and Japan have long been at odds over the sovereignty of the four Pacific islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

Japan temporarily recalled its ambassador from Moscow in protest of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the disputed islands on November 1.