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    RUSSIA TO RETAIN SOUTH KURILS: SENATE SPEAKER

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 11 (RIA Novosti) - Japan is drafting yet another option to settle the South Kuril issue, says recent news from Tokyo. The matter may imply a deliberate information leak, assumes Speaker Sergei Mironov of the Federation Council, the Russian parliament's upper house.

    As the media are presenting the latest option, Japan consents to Russia retaining Iturup, the largest of the disputed islands and one of strategic importance, while Japan will get back the three others - Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai. Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced the information in an official statement.

    Mr. Mironov suspects the allegations are circulated on purpose - as one of frequent hints that Russia will eventually be coaxed into territorial concessions. More and more variants of such concessions are coming up. "The thing must stop. We are proceeding from our own country's and nation's interests as we deal with this and similar matters. Whatever islands ceded to Japan will clash with Russian interests," Mr. Mironov snaps in a return statement.

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