President Lee to make landmark visit to Dokdo

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President Lee to make landmark visit to Dokdo

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  President Lee Myung-bak plans to visit Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets, later today, a symbolic trip that no other president has made before, a senior Blue House official said. 

According to the source, Lee will travel to Ulleung Island and the trip to Dokdo will take place if the weather permits.

The ministers of culture and environment will accompany the president, the source said.

 If Lee's visit to Dokdo is realized, it would be the first time a Korean president visits the easternmost territory over which Japan has frequently claimed sovereignty.

Until now, top government officials and high-profile politicians have visited the islets, but no president has done so. 

Although the Blue House source said the purpose of Lee’s trip to Ulleung Island is to stress the importance of environmental preservation, no other details were discussed. 

The president’s plan to visit Dokdo comes shortly after Japan’s latest territorial claim that came in its 2012 defense white paper last week. Seoul demanded Tokyo immediately correct it.  

Japan’s latest move also put a further damper on diplomatic ties between the two countries, which have soured recently due to issues related to wartime crimes.

 Lee’s plan to visit Dokdo is also taking place at a sensitive time. Next week, Korea celebrates its liberation from Japan’s colonial rule on the Independence Day on Aug. 15.  

By Ser Myo-ja  [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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