MOSCOW, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Kunashiri Island, one of the Russian-held islands also claimed by Japan, on Monday, Russia's local media said.
Medvedev is the first leader from Russia or the former Soviet Union to travel to any of the disputed islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.
He arrived in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, capital of the Russian Far East province of Sakhalin, earlier in the day on the way back from his trip to Vietnam where he attended meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and left there aboard a plane for Kunashiri, the Interfex said, quoting an official source.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that the president "independently determines the routes of travel across the country" and "what else outside advice on this score are inappropriate and unacceptable," Interfex quoted the ministry as saying.
Lavrov stressed that the visit would affect relations between the two countries.
In September, Medvedev said recently that the four disputed Pacific islands are "an important region of our country" and he would "visit them in the near future without fail."
These islands were occupied by Soviet troops in 1945 and are currently under Russian control.