Fighter jets escorted Medvedev to disputed islands: report

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Russian fighter jets were deployed to escort the plane carrying President Dmitry Medvedev on his visit to the Kuril Islands after Japanese jets were detected in the area, a Russian daily said Tuesday.

Quoting an anonymous source in the presidential administration, the newspaper Kommersant said the Su-27 fighter planes were deployed because Japanese fighter jets had been detected taking off shortly before Medvedev's arrival on the Russian island of Sakhalin, from where he travelled to one of the Kuril Islands.

Asked about the report, the Kremlin's press service refused to comment, with a spokesman telling AFP: "Public information is on our web site. If this information is not there, we have no comment."

The press service of the Russian air force also refused to comment.

Medvedev early Monday flew into the island of Kunashir in the first visit by a Russian leader to the isles, claimed by Japan in a dispute that has prevented a post-World War II peace treaty between the two neighbours.

The Kuril Islands, which lie north of Japan's Hokkaido island, have been controlled by Moscow since they were seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II, but Tokyo claims the southernmost four as Japanese territory.

© 2010 AFP

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