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Moscow Rejects Japan's Kurile Islands Warning

Russia's Foreign Ministry has criticized Japan's condemnation of a plan for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to visit the disputed Kurile Islands, saying the remarks by Japanese officials were "inappropriate and unacceptable."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on September 30 that "the president of Russia himself determines the itinerary of trips inside his own country."

On September 29, Medvedev said the Kurile Islands are a "very important" part of Russia that he plans to visit soon.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara responded that a visit to the islands by the Russian president would "severely hurt ties" between Japan and Russia.

The Kurile archipelago, which lie north of Japan's Hokkaido island, have been controlled by Russia since they were seized by Soviet troops in 1945.

Japan demands the return of the four southernmost islands -- known in Russian as Iturup, Shikotan, Habomai, and Kunashir -- and which are collectively known in Japan as the Northern Territories.

compiled from agency reports