Japan-Russia summit meet expected despite isle row

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Japan said Tuesday that Prime Minister Naoto Kan was likely to hold a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev when he visits for Asia-Pacific talks this month amid tension over disputed isles.

"I believe the bilateral meeting will be held," chief government spokesman Yoshito Sengoku said when asked whether Kan will meet Medvedev during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit on November 13-14.

Japan's longstanding row with Russia over the Kuril Islands flared after Medvedev flew there Monday on the first ever visit by a Russian leader to the disputed territory.

Tokyo on Monday summoned Russia's ambassador to Japan to lodge a protest.

Sengoku did not confirm if Japan would take further measures in response.

"We are studying what the appropriate measures would be," he told reporters.

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.

Japan is already locked in a bitter feud with China after it arrested a Chinese trawler captain whose boat collided with Japanese patrol vessels in waters near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea in September.

China cancelled at the last minute a formal meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Kan in Hanoi last week. The two later only held brief informal talks.

© 2010 AFP

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