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S. Korean leader due to visit disputed islands

Published on Aug 10, 2012 10:23 AM

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean President Lee Myung Bak is expected later on Friday to visit islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan, his spokesman said, a trip set to ignite a sharp diplomatic row with Tokyo.

It would be the first-ever visit by a South Korean president to the rocky outcrops in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.

In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said any such trip "would have a great impact on Japan-South Korea relations" and Japan would "have to respond firmly".

The presidential spokesman said Mr Lee was scheduled to visit South Korea's Ulleung island and would fly on by helicopter to nearby Dokdo if weather permitted.

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