Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Japan to recall Russia envoy

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits one of the Russian-held islands claimed by Japan, at the southern Kurils. -- PHOTO: AP

TOKYO/BEIJING - JAPAN said on Tuesday it was recalling its ambassador to Moscow temporarily to hear explanations about a row over disputed islands that is snarling ties with Russia.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan, struggling with a divided parliament and a fragile economy and now under fire for what critics call his mishandling of a similar row with China, got a fresh headache on Monday when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited one of four islands that both nations claim.

China told the United States on Tuesday to stay out of its row with Japan, saying it was strictly a bilateral affair.

Adding to Mr Kan's diplomatic headaches, Russia's Mr Medvedev on Monday visited an island outpost claimed by Moscow and Tokyo, reigniting a row with Japan, which demands their return.

But leaders from Japan and Russia will likely hold talks at an summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on Nov 13 to 14, Japan's top government spokesman said, adding Tokyo was considering what steps it might take after lodging a protest with the Russian envoy to Tokyo on Monday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called the Japanese reaction 'unacceptable', but US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley weighed in on Japan's side. -- REUTERS

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