S. Korea's Lee visits disputed islands, Japan recalls envoy
SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean President Lee Myung Bak paid a surprise visit on Friday to islands at the centre of a decades-long territorial dispute with Japan, which recalled its ambassador from Seoul in protest.
Mr Lee was making the first-ever visit by a South Korean president to the rocky volcanic outcrops in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), roughly midway between South Korea and its former colonial ruler Japan.
Disregarding Tokyo's warnings that the visit would strain already prickly relations, Mr Lee toured the main island and shook hands with coastguards as a South Korean flag fluttered in the breeze.
"Dokdo is our territory. We must keep it under close guard," pool reports quoted him as saying. TV footage showed him posing for a photo in front of a rock painted with the slogan "ROK (South Korean) territory".