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South Korean official visits islets disputed by Japan

A South Korean official says the country's president has visited islets that Japan claims as its own. The move likely will deepen animosity between the rivals.

An official working for a South Korean governor who traveled with President Lee Myung-bak says the officials visited the islets Friday. Seoul says Lee's visit to the islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is the first by a South Korean leader. Tokyo has already said the visit will hurt ties.

The official spoke anonymously because he said he wasn't authorized to talk to the press.

South Korea stations police officers on the islets. But Japan last month renewed its claim of ownership.

The visit comes as Lee's conservative party gears up for hotly contested December presidential elections.