Russia and Japan still mincing words over islands

Russia and Japan were engaged in a heated war of words on Monday over a disputed island chain that the Kremlin vowed to keep forever despite the pressure from Tokyo.The deeply divisive issue flared again when Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan used a national remembrance day to call President Dmitry Medvedevs recent visit to the Kuril Islands — known as the Northern Territories in Japan — an "unforgivable outrage".Japans centre-left prime minister delivered his comments at a rally demanding the islands return — an event that received broad media play in Moscow because it featured the burning of a Russian tricolour flag.Russia delivered an immediate toughly-worded response to both the rallies and Kans address.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Japanese prime minister of pandering to nationalist interests and noted that any talks over the islands must be based on Tokyos "unconditional recognition of the outcome of World War II."

"These expressions are clearly undiplomatic," Lavrov said in reference to Kans comments.

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