The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned the U.S. ambassador in Moscow for a recent statement from Washington in support of Japan's territorial claims on the disputed Pacific islands, the ministry said in a Monday statement.
The ministry summoned U.S. ambassador John Beyrle earlier in the day to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin who reiterated Russia's territorial sovereignty over the islands.
The statement said Beyrle had been asked about the "recent statement made by officials from the U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Moscow," which have expressed "support for Japan's territorial claims."
"In this regard, the ministry reiterated the principle and consistent position on the sovereignty over the Southern Kuril islands (to Beyrle)," the statement said.
However, citing a U.S. official, the AFP news agency said the entire incident resulted from a misunderstanding in which an old U.S. position was presented by the Russian media as a fresh statement.
Russia and Japan have long been at odds with the sovereignty of the four Pacific islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.
In recent months, the row has escalated following a series of visits to the islands by top Russian officials, including President Dmitry Medvedev.