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Russia, Japan dispute islands' ownership

Russia, Japan dispute islands' ownership
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev toasts after signing a joint statement with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on bilateral cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 27, 2010. UPI Photo/Stringer.. | License Photo

MOSCOW, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The Japanese ambassador to Russia was recalled to Tokyo due to tensions between the countries regarding the ownership of disputed islands, officials said.

President Dmitri Medvedev, who is the first Soviet or Russian leader to visit the islands, known by the Russians as the Kuriles and by the Japanese as the Northern Territories, said in Moscow he does not intend to cede the islands to Japan, the New York Times reported.

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Japan allows access to fisheries and oil and gas fields in the mineral-rich region that the Soviet Union took over from Japan at the end of World War II, the Times reported.

"How many beautiful places there are in Russia!" Medvedev wrote in his Twitter blog, referring to a photograph he had taken from the island the Russians call Kunashir, but is known by the Japanese as Kunashiri.

The Kremlin seemed eager to quell the dispute Tuesday, saying Medvedev still plans to attend the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Yokohama later this month.

"We don't see a problem" with the recall of the ambassador by Tokyo, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Medvedev told island residents Russia plans to invest a great deal of money to raise living standards there.

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