Russia ready to help Japan after quake: Medvedev

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President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday offered Russia's assistance to Tokyo following a huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as waves reached islands at the heart of the two countries' territorial dispute.

"Of course we are ready to help our neighbours overcome the consequences of this very difficult earthquake," Medvedev told a government meeting.

Earlier Friday, Russia declared a tsunami warning for the Kuril Island chain and ordered the evacuation of 11,000 people, officials said. The first tsunami waves reached the Kuril chain's southernmost islands that are at the heart of Russia's long-running territorial feud with Japan.

Russia's territorial dispute with Japan surrounds the Kuril chain's southernmost four islands -- known in Russian as Iturup, Shikotan, Habomai and Kunashir -- which are still claimed by Tokyo and collectively known in Japan as the Northern Territories.

The dispute has flared up since November when Medvedev paid an unexpected visit to one of the four islands, followed by a series of trips there by other top Kremlin officials.

Speaking in televised remarks, Medvedev said the government should ensure all measures are taken to prevent any possible deaths and damage in Russia following the natural disaster.

© 2011 AFP

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