S. Korea president to visit disputed islands: reports

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak plans to visit on Friday a group of islets in the Sea of Japan controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo, Japanese media said.

Seoul notified Tokyo on Thursday of the trip to the islands, called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, Kyodo News and other Japanese media reported, quoting diplomatic sources.

It would be the first visit to the islands, roughly half way between the two countries, by a South Korean head of state since the row between Seoul and its former colonial ruler began began decades ago.

Japan strongly advised South Korea to cancel the visit to avoid damaging relations, which are already strained due to the dispute and other issues, Kyodo reported.

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