Kuril Islands 'very important' part of Russia: Medvedev
The Pacific Kuril Islands chain claimed by Japan is a "very important" part of Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday, vowing to visit soon.
"This is a very important region of our country," Medvedev told reporters in the main city of Russia's volcanic Kamchatka peninsula just north of the contested islands.
He said he had been hoping to visit on his current trip to the Far East region but the plan had been thwarted by bad weather.
"But we will do it, we will definitely go there in the nearest future," he said.
The Kuril Islands, which lie north of Japan's Hokkaido island, have been controlled by Moscow since they were seized by Soviet troops in 1945 but are claimed by Japan and their status is a major problem in Moscow-Tokyo relations.
© 2010 AFP