The United States backs Japan in its dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands and keeps on calling on both countries to reach a compromise, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State said.
"We are quite aware of the dispute. We do back Japan regarding the Northern Territories. The United States for a number of years has encouraged Japan and Russia to negotiate an actual peace treaty, regarding these and other issues," Philip Crowley told a daily press briefing.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sparked a diplomatic row with Japan when he visited Kunashir Island, near Japan's northernmost Hokkaido Island, on Monday.
The visit was the first trip by a head of state of Russia or the former Soviet Union to the South Kuril Islands. The Soviet Union seized four of the Kuril Islands (Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai) from Japan at the end of World War II and Tokyo has demanded their return ever since. The dispute has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a formal peace treaty.
Japan said the move was "regrettable," and had "hurt the Japanese people's sentiments."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that he saw "no connection" between the trip and Russian-Japanese relations.
WASHINGTON, November 2 (RIA Novosti)