Disputed Kuril Islands 'our land': Medvedev
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday said Japan should realise Moscow would not give up disputed Pacific islands, proposing instead to consider creating a free economic zone there.
"All the South Kuril Islands are Russia's territory.... This is our land," Medvedev said in a live end-of-year television interview.
He said however Russia and Japan could consider pursuing joint economic projects at the disputed islands, in his most detailed comments yet on his vision for the remote archipelago.
"Nothing brings us closer than joint economic projects.
"We can think about the creation of a single economic zone, a free trade zone, everyone would earn money there, there would be a special micro economic climate there," he said.
"People would come work there, Japanese citizens would come work there, visit historic places, work there. That, I think, is right and that's what I told my Japanese colleague Prime Minister Naoto Kan, inviting him to Russia."
Medvedev caused an uproar in November when he became the first Russian leader to visit one of the disputed islands known as Kunashir in Russian and Kunashiri in Japanese.
The visit caused the worst diplomatic crisis in bilateral ties in years and became the subject of talks with Kan last month in Japan.
Russian officials said Medvedev told Kan the two countries should focus on economic ties instead but never commented on Moscow's proposal at length.
© 2010 AFP